Pastor's Points: Seekers
Many times upon opening the door for first-time visitors to my house, I get asked the question, “What does that mean?” as they point to the top part of my door. There I have written in chalk “20 + C + M + B + 15.” As I do each year on the Epiphany I mark the door with the year and the first letter of the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. It could also stand for “Christus mansionem benedictat,” which means "May Christ bless this dwelling."
At St. Thomas More, we pass out blessed chalk and prayer cards on the Epiphany each year so that you may mark the doors of your home. It is a wonderful family activity and can be a key moment for catechesis with children about the significance and meaning of the Epiphany.
One aspect of the Epiphany that I have always loved is thinking about the Magi as seekers. They were in search of someone. They were never complacent or content with the status quo; they were forever searching for something else, for new signs. And so in their search, the Magi were willing to look beyond the boundaries of nation, tradition, even religion in order to discover the truth. They were seekers. They wanted something more. They wanted to know the Babe of Bethlehem.
The Magi followed a star that led them to Bethlehem—to the place of the Lord’s birth. In his homily for the Epiphany 2002, Pope St. John Paul II asked, “Who does not feel the need for a ‘star’ to guide him on his earthly journey?” We all need that star. We need something to lead us and guide us. We need something to follow as we go about our work as seekers. We need a wise person, a scripture reading, a memorable dream, an inspired story or a steady prayer for guidance. We all need something that will guide us to what we are seeking.
And what do we seek? We seek the God who can heal our every ill and calm our every fear. We seek hope; hope for a better world, for a better life. We seek strength to get through difficult times. We seek answers to the tough questions of life. Why is our loved one sick? Why do people die young? Why does it seem like bad things happen so often to good people? We are seeking faith so that we may fall more deeply in love with the divine in our midst. We may or may not find all of the answers we are looking for, but we must seek. We must look. We must strive on in hope.
The Magi, the Wise Men, went out and sought the Lord. I would like to think that we are wise people too. As such, we must seek the Lord always. For one day, when our pilgrimage on this earth is over, we will find God who has been passionately seeking us all along. One day we will stand face to face with the One who has loved us from the beginning. Those Magi took a risk and went in search of this newborn king. We too must take that risk. We must always strive to seek the Lord. And perhaps that is why we come to church each week. Perhaps we come to Mass because we are seeking something. Perhaps we come looking for answers to those questions I posed before and so many more. Perhaps we come because we are seeking to be fulfilled by our God. Perhaps we are seeking to somehow understand what the mystery of what God is all about. Perhaps we are indeed seeking the truth, something that we can hold on to. Something that we know will not pass away.
The Magi found the One they were looking for. Seek the Lord in this new year of grace. Seek the One who loved you from the beginning and holds you close. Follow the star of wonder, the star of night, the star of royal beauty bright as the wonderful carol “We Three Kings” declares.
In case you miss picking up a prayer card at church on the Epiphany on January 3, you can use the prayer below to mark the door of your home as you celebrate this great Solemnity and recall how we, like the Magi, are seekers in this world following a star as we move toward our God.
Happy Epiphany! Happy New Year!
Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten
Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill them with the light of Christ,
that their concern for others may
reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.