Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
January 4th, 2015
Year B

There is an interesting contrast between the account of the birth of Jesus Christ and the Magi. On the one hand, the gospel of Christmas tells us that “there was no room for them in the inn (Lk 2:6). And from John’s Gospel: “He came to what was his own and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11). Then, in Matthew’s Gospel and in the solemnity that we celebrate today – the Epiphany of the Lord – we hear of these wise men, Magi, who came in search for the child. To those for whom He came, there was no room. Yet those of a far distant land, draw near. It begs the question: who are these men? In relevant sources, the concept of Magi encompasses a wide range of sources. Most commonly they are considered to be members of the Persian priestly class. They would have been highly influenced by philosophy and astronomy. They were regarded as leaders of a distinctive religion. Yet, this does not adequately describe who they are and why they are searching for the newborn king of the Jews.

Thus, we must take another step and ask: from where exactly do they come? St. Matthew tells that Magi came from the East, the land of the rising sun. Most scholars believe that they lived in Babylon. About 600 years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Daniel, during the exile, ministered here. In fact, Daniel, because of his dreams and the gift of wisdom he received from God, was classified among the Magi of the time – of the most scholarly and influential. If such is the case, then there can be no doubt that Daniel would have had an effect on the Magi of his time.

This still does not explain why the Magi of Jesus’ time would set out on a long and rugged journey in search for a baby. The message of the Old Testament is one of hope and of longing for truth, freedom, and goodness. This was the messianic message of the savior of Israel. In this sense, we get an answer to our question – who are these men? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI answers this for us in his book “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives”, he states that they must have been:
“…people of inner unrest, people of hope, people on the lookout for the true star of salvation. The men of whom Matthew speaks were not just astronomers. They were ‘wise’. They represent the inner dynamic of religion toward self-transcendence, which involves a search for truth, a search for the true God and hence ‘philosophy’ in the original sense of the word.”

Who are they? In other words… they represent you and me. They represent the whole of humanity and the human spirit’s desire for truth, goodness, fulfillment and salvation.

If only more and more people of today’s world would be like the Magi of old, seekers of the divine. They are sincere and humble people who’s longing is for the real truth and not something that is made up in order to make oneself feel good. The nearly 10 day journey through the desert, to Jerusalem and then another days journey to Bethlehem was not something they did to feel good about themselves. It was not an easy task. This, however, is the mark of true religion – where philosophy, wisdom, reason, and faith come together and meet in the Person of Truth – Jesus Christ. All wisdom and knowledge point toward Christ. Our journey is like that of the Magi, it is the path of pilgrim, a path of struggle, of foolishness and sin, a path faith, hope and love. As such, the journey – the way of faith – coincides with a way of life. Thus the Magi teach us how to live, how to journey to God – as men and women of belief, who are sincerely open in heart and mind to the truth and love of the divine and the desire to continue to believe, to continue to love, to continue to seek.

There is one distinct advantage that we have over the Magi – we know where to find Him. Let this New Year be one in which our desire for God grows stronger, that we seek Him with greater fervor and intensity. May this be a year where we grow in wisdom and knowledge and love for Him who was born to save us. Perhaps this can be added to our list of “New Years Resolutions” – where we commit ourselves with a spiritual plan that helps us to seek and to find Christ, so that each and every day, not just once a year, in our hearts Christ may find a welcoming place to dwell.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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