Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. January 8, 2023. Sister Marie Therese Summers, OSB, Prioress reflects on the scripture readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-23

The story of Epiphany is so familiar to all of us. Of course, because we walk our hallways with three visible nativity scenes, I found the playful child within me imagining the wisemen coming to the stable, although the scripture from Matthew is clear: “Joseph welcomed them into his house.” Because this is an Infancy Narrative, accuracy in details is unimportant. While we know parts are based on historical events, persons and places, we know that it is a myth for the purpose of relaying a deeper meaning about the person of Jesus to humankind – past and present.

We hear in the gospel for Epiphany: “they saw a star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” Today we have a whole new understanding of stars from the James Webb Telescope. From the pictures, we can see the “birth of a star” beyond our imaginations, beyond the twinkling of the stars that we see in the winter sky. As I prepared for this 2023 Sacred Feast of the Epiphany, I felt a nudge to think beyond the story line, to explore the deeper meaning with these questions and thoughts put into current language and considerations.

What was the allurement of that star for these wisemen?
Are we led to believe, it was the placement in the sky that was different? Was it the fact it rose in the East that made it exciting? Was it the splendid brightness?

The message is so much more. I share again the quote from Robert Keck in Sacred Eyes: “The first step to empowerment is to love our uniqueness, the second is to love our depths and the third is to love our heights and reach for the stars.”

Wisdom calls us to reach for the stars, a call that goes directly to the core of our being, to experience the allurement of the divine energy of love that we call God. I imagine we all have a “star in the east” that invites us into the heart of God, an original splendor which aspires us to transcendence. I further trust that the lure of God is within us as an inner impulse to seek the good, the true and the beautiful. Our response to this lure of God is manifested in our response of radical selflessness as Jesus did.

Why three men – who may have been kings, wisemen, astrologers, magicians, noble people, sages?
I came to realize they could have fit one or more of these descriptors. Then, of greater importance, I realized they were CONSCIOUS PEOPLE who dared to take the journey into the unknown. One by one, CONSCIOUS INDIVIDUALS, who choose to awaken, to leave the prison of their conditioning, their training. CONSCIOUSLY, they awakened to a love from the seed of divinity within each of them. They left the comforts of their known careers and the comforts of their home and surroundings and entered into a journey – a mystery of mysteries, with an undeniable trust in something bigger than themselves.

I believe we are invited to this same awakening to who and what we really are, as we discover our personal gifts and uniqueness, as we love, heal and integrate all dimensions of ourselves. God is calling us to embrace Christ’s Consciousness with open hearts. Eckhart Tolle writes: “that consciousness is learning to align the inner purpose with the outer purpose of our life. The inner purpose is shared with every other person on the planet, it is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence.” As people of faith, we call that “emerging intelligence” God. The outer purpose changes over time and usually with a choice to go deeper into the soul of our beings when our thinking becomes the servant of awareness. And this awareness becomes a conscious connection with universal intelligence. We choose to be one with God, we experience the TRUE PRESENCE – God with us, as did Jesus.

What did they have within themselves besides the external gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
• Gifts of awareness, curiosity, and wonder!
• A gift of relinquishment of ego enabling them to enter deeply into a relationship with the Holy One.
• The gift of listening with the ear of their heart to the guiding wisdom within rather than acquiescing to Herod’s trickery.
• Gifts of endurance and resilience at setbacks by returning home a longer way.
• A gift of vulnerability, the vulnerability that Brene’ Brown defines as embracing “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”
• The gift of bold action as they stepped into the house where Jesus was, thus entering a relationship that would change their lives forever.

We are asked to act boldly by sharing our individual giftedness and our communal giftedness. We are invited to explore the truth of vulnerability in our relationships with each other, the stranger, the wounded, the sick, our enemies and all who God leads through the doorways of our hearts. We are called to embrace the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure of radical hospitality that welcomes all with respect and is manifested outward in reverence for all creation, as did Jesus.

I close with these final questions:
• Do we allow ourselves to be lured into the heart of God?
• Do we dare to be aware and conscious of the TRUE-PRESENCE within us?
• Are we engaged in the grace of vulnerability by sharing our inner giftedness, given to us from our creator?
• To whom will I do homage? To whom will you do homage?

I suggest, that if we respond with the same love freely given to us, it is our homage to our God.

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