02 January 2016

A SURPRISING ENCOUNTER

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
isaiah 60:1-6; ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; matthew 2:1-12

a religious sister, travelling from chennai to guwahati, got off at kolkata to change trains. exhausted after the long journey in summer, she fainted. when she revived, she found herself lying on a bench. her luggage was by her side; so was a porter, wiping her forehead with a damp cloth. he brought her a cup of tea and some biscuits, and waited till she had recovered. she thanked him and gave him some money; he brushed it aside, saying: «sister, it is nothing. you would’ve done the same for me.»
she had tears in her eyes because she knew that wasn’t true; she had encountered GOD in an unexpected place and person. a surprising encounter!

today we celebrate a surprising encounter between CHRIST and the magi. this encounter involved two moments: GOD’s initiative and human response. 


the coming of the magi to bethlehem was a response to GOD’s initiative. it is not we who search for GOD, but GOD who searches for us, reveals himself to us, and draws us to an encounter with him. 
GOD makes use of the most surprising ways to draw us to him! GOD drew the magi to himself by a star. it was something they understood, something that was part of their culture and religion, and therefore, a part of their lives. he used it draw them to him. GOD uses parts of our lives to draw us to him. 

today’s gospel presents three responses to GOD’s invitation: herod’s response of fear and hostility; the total indifference of the chief priests and scribes; the adoring worship of the magi. 
the magi followed the star despite many hardships, came to bethlehem, and «saw the child with his mother.» we can get so used to this story that we underestimate the faith of the magi. what did they see: a palace with courtiers? visible signs of power? they saw simply «a child with his mother». yet, they adored… no questions asked. the result: they were filled with great joy. matthew is emphatic: «they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.»

GOD uses surprising, unlooked-for ways to draw us to himself: a star, a motley group of fishermen, the seemingly insignificant bread and wine… 
how does GOD come to you and me today: through my loved ones, through a concerned person, through a liturgy that suddenly struck home, maybe even through strangers? am i open to his surprising ways? or am i so sure of the way he comes… that i fail to recognize him when he comes in unexpected ways? 
we need to discern the «star» in our lives!