Four things the wise men had that we need – A homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

wiseToday Holy Church celebrates the  the Epiphany. We celebrate those three kings–Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar–and their journey to the Lord.  In some ways, until this point in this Christmas season, we have been considering God’s journey towards us.  He had a far way to come, from heaven to earth. We’ve considered how he came to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary, how he came to the stable, how he comes into our lives.

Today we reflect a bit on the fact that we must journey to God, too.  It’s a pretty sweet deal he’s given us. His part of the journey, after all, is far greater, far more difficult. The distance from Heaven to earth is a lot more miles than from our house to the manger, to the church. We have only to go a bit.  I want to reflect briefly with you about how to make that journey to the Lord. The wise men teach us we need four things. They all start with G, so it should be easy to remember: a guide, a group, a gift, and grace.

First, a guide.  No one can find his or her way to God without a guide. Many try. We think that we can find God on our couches or in our armchairs. The only guide we have there is the television guide. We need a guide. The wise men had the star. They looked to that star for direction, direction to God. Who is your star? This is why God gave us his church–to show the way. It is why we have confirmation sponsors, godparents, small groups in faith communities, saints, teachers, parents, siblings, etc. It is why we have the bible, spiritual books, etc. Those are our stars. We cannot get to God relying on ourselves, our own sense to get there. It is not sufficient.  I stress this to our kids all the time: we have to be guides to others, we have to be stars that show the way. No matter who you are, someone looks up to you. Be a star for them. Young people: be stars to your families. Be stars to your friends. Get them to church. Get them to God. It might mean an awkward conversation. So be it. Be nice, but invite people and don’t easily take no for an answer.

Second, we need a group. The wise men had one another. We need each other. All of us are bumbling along the way. We need guides, yes, but we also need to be making the journey with others. This is why we have Christ Renews, why we have retreats and bible study groups. This is why I wish our classes at the school went to Mass together on Sundays. It is why I wish our families did, I mean everybody in the family. This is why I wish friends would bring friends to church. A lot of people would come to church if we invited them. So invite.

Third, we need a gift. The wise men gave their all. What they gave cost them. What do we give to God?  God deserves our money, our time, our talents. So we give.

Fourth, we need grace. That is the most important thing. In the end, it is everything. God’s grace. It works in ways we never understand. Which is why no one knows how to define it. But we all feel it, even in the core of our bones sometimes, deep in our hearts. God’s grace leads us on, it carries us, it gives us everything we need.

Here’s the thing. Every step the wise men took–it was either to God or away from God. Same for us. Pray God we will always have those four things with us, those four G’s–a guide, a group, a gift, and grace.