January 3, 2016 –– Epiphany
Isaiah 60: 1–6 / Ephesians 3:2–3a; 5–6 / Matthew 2:1–12
Our Heart’s Desire
Time and money. Both consciously and implicitly these are two things we most value. We also model other values with time and money. We give time and money to whatever we make our highest priorities. Do you really want to know where your heart is? Take an honest look where you direct your time and money. This can be especially revealing with what we call our “discretionary spending”––whatever gets our money once the essential bills are paid (and all of us might need a reality check on what we think is “essential”).
What does this have to do with the Epiphany? Think about the “wise men”, these magi from the east who traveled so far to find and worship the Baby Jesus. They left all that was familiar. They exchanged the safety of home for travel that was often dangerous and certainly difficult over a great distance. We do not know if their gifts were a portion of their wealth or if those gifts represented a huge sacrifice or even a consolidation of all their material possessions; whichever, the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were significant.
It’s also significant that these magi set out not knowing exactly where they were going or what they would find. They had a desire for something beyond what was familiar and safe and comfortable. They were willing to risk. They were committed to seeking their heart’s desire. This should remind us of something the Scriptures say again and again:
Moses told Israel: ….seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Isaiah reiterated: Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6-7).
God spoke through Jeremiah: You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
The writer to the Hebrews tells us: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
Our Lord promised: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).
The magi made it a priority to seek God. They were able to discern, with the help of a grace that calls the whole world to believe, that God was doing something big as his Son was being born in Bethlehem. They acted on that discernment––and then took the next step, and the next….
The magi were willing to expend those two commodities that we value the most, time and money, in their search for God. They showed the proper integration of faith and works; they believed God enough to seek him, and they acted on their belief when they spent time to find the Baby and gave of their wealth to bring gifts of worship.
On this Epiphany Sunday the light of God’s Son still shines into our world. The invitation to seek God is still offered and the promise holds: he rewards those who seek him.
How do we know if we are seeking God? Here are two clues: What are we doing with our time? How are we spending our money?
There is no guarantee of abundant grace in our lives if we are only giving God, at best, our leftovers. St John Vianney said, “….the merit of true faith consists in this: that we sacrifice all that which we love best to obey the voice of grace which calls to us.”
That is what the magi did. They were truly “wise” men in the full scriptural meaning of the word. Let’s be like them. Let’s be people who seek God. Let’s be people who give our time and possessions for what matters most. When our heart’s desire is for God, we will show it with the things that matter the most.