“…who by a star led wise men to the worship of your son…” These words from the Collect for the Feast of the Epiphany tell of God’s action in making Godself known to the peoples of the world – to all people not just those within the Old Covenant. They are words of comfort for all who seek God and seek to know his presence, because they tell us that God’s love reaches to all of creation, and that in God’s quest to make Godself known, God uses what God has made. They are words of comfort also because they speak of God’s continuing action, of God’s involvement with and in the world.Those of us who live in large cities know that it is not easy to see the stars clearly because of “light pollution”. The brightness of lights in the streets, houses and great towers of the cities shade the starlight from our view. This fact is a reminder that we need to persevere in our quest for God. In order to really look at the stars we now have to step out of our usual environment. We may need to do the same in order to hear the Word that God longs to say to us. Blotting out the usual day to day stuff of living is not easy. To do so we may need to find a different setting; a place where we can listen and observe without all that normally intrudes into our thoughts. One of the best places to do this is to visit a Retreat House, such as our Holy Cross Priory here in Toronto, or one of the other Houses of the Order of the Holy Cross. In such places one’s focus changes. Solitude, silence, and participation in the regular daily round of Offices and Liturgy, even for a brief time, enables guests to find their compass point. And so we are better able to hear and see the Word that God desires to reveal.
Such a visit is not a substitution for the daily necessity of prayer and reflection on the scriptures. But it is indeed an opportunity to focus more fully on the things of God, glimpse a little more clearly God’s call to us, experience more deeply the ever present love of God for us. The desire for God is a mystery. We can only assume that the Holy Spirit stirs that longing within us and spurs us onward in our personal quest to find Mary’s child in Bethleham. We take heart from the story of those wise Magi from the East, who, as St. Matthew tells us, “observed his star at its rising,” and set out on a long journey to find the new King of the Jews. They followed the star and found the child and “…they knelt down and paid him homage” (Mt. 2.11).
As we celebrate the season of Ephipany this year, let us join with those wise men and offer homage to the Christ. And let us dedicate ourselves to the ongoing journey into a deeper and closer knowledge of the God who calls to us in love.