Our young folks probably notice that us old people like to talk about how things were when we were young. Certainly, how we listen to music is different than it used to be. << music starts >> Before MP3 players; before CDs, and even before cassette tapes (which you probably read about in your ancient history books) there were things called records, which are staging a bit of a comeback, evidently << hold record up >>. Records were a great thing, except that sometimes – << music skipping by now >> they would skip.
I think some people go through their days thinking that that is just how life is. << music starts again >> Nothing really changes. On December 31st we count down to a New Year … we act like we are excited … but deep down, we know better. Things don’t really change. People don’t really grow. And you might as well not expect differently, because you will only be disappointed. << music skipping again >> Nothing really changes.
Enter the Magi and the wonderful story in today’s Gospel: these seekers, really, who set out on a journey and follow a star… the star that would lead them to the Christ child. We know parts of the beautiful story … and there are parts we have to use our imaginations for. But we know how it ends. The story ends with the Magi changed: The scriptures say went back by a different way … they were changed.
The truth is that things CAN change. It is the promise of Christmas that – not only was Jesus born into human time and condition some 2,000 years ago – but that EVERY moment holds him… and EACH moment holds all the grace needed for a new beginning!
HOW? We have a lot to learn from these seekers. What changed them? Though their experience would be unique, the three things that changed them are essential on some level for change in anyone …
ONE: They had to be opened to change. Herod got the same news about this baby, but he retrenched. The magi were willing to think differently. So us: We have to realize that there are some things that need changing. There are some things that are worth working on.
TWO: They took the outer journey – They did something different… They got up off the couch and took a risk. It has to be that way for us as well. For things to change in our lives, we have to take some risk… make some effort… do something different.
• I want a better relationship with my spouse, parents, my brother or my child… but we keep communicating the same way we always did
• I need to get better grades … but I keep the same study habits …
• We want peace in the Mideast so we’ll just keep blowing each other up hoping somebody else changes
• I’ve got to quit this problem with drug use or drinking… but I still hang out with the same guys after work or on weekends…
• I want a deeper Faith… and I keep waiting for it to happen…
And so it goes. My brothers and sisters, change is soooo hard. But if we want a different result… there has to be some change. The magi made the journey… did the outer work. And so must we.
THIRDLY: The Magi did the INNER journey. I think what allowed the Magi to be changed was their humility. They prostrated themselves before the Christ child as something bigger than themselves … someone from whom they were willing to learn…
It has to be that way for us. Unless we make room inside ourselves for another for “THE OTHER” we won’t be changed. Unless we let ourselves meet and see each other and THE other, we won’t be able to say “I’m sorry” we won’t be able to see or hear differently, we won’t be able to be holy…
The word “Epiphany” = manifestation of God… when we meet God, we are different. The MAGI would never have seen this manifestation of God except that they made the journey … and they were humble enough to have space in their hearts to meet the other. They were the “Wise men” precisely because they knew they weren’t wise enough.
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<<silent night without skip plays>>
Some people sit here near the dawn of a New Year and are convinced that nothing can really change. That the world is a mess and our families are a mess, and our spiritual lives are a mess, and you might as well not expect differently, because you will only be disappointed.
But there are others who are willing to risk what the magi risked … to try something new… to make both the outer journey… and the inner journey. God’s promise is that – if we do – we, too, will go home by another way.