The Courage to Act

This New Year, I have been contemplating the role of the Magi in salvation history. The Magi were pagan wise men and royals searching for a Jewish king. They were the first Gentiles to seek and worship Christ, who came to establish a new and everlasting covenant with all men. They set out on what must have been a long and arduous journey to seek and find a king that represented something more than themselves. They felt a longing to seek and worship even though they did not know the final destination. The Magi had the courage to act.

Do we have the courage to act? We are made to seek God even when we do not. To seek God requires us to act, and often this action takes courage.

Arriving in Jerusalem, the Magi asked, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him” (Mt. 2:2). Thinking that they would find a king in a palace, they met with Herod, who was not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination. He wanted nothing more than to stay in power at any cost. Not finding what they were searching for in Jerusalem, the Magi continued their search until the star “came to rest over the place where the child was” (Mt. 2:9). These Gentile kings followed a star in the heavens, not knowing that it would bring them to the Star of Heaven, Jesus Christ.

Are we following the Star of Heaven, or do our eyes rest on the false stars of this world?

Finally arriving at their long-awaited destination, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Mt. 2:10). They brought their best gifts, treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and willingly laid them at the feet of a baby lying in a manger, who must not have seen like the king they thought they would find. Nevertheless, the Magi did not hesitate to worship with all that they had.

Do we give our best gifts to God? Do we rejoice in knowing Jesus?

The Magi were changed by their encounter with Christ. Rather than report back to Herod with the location of the child Jesus and after being warned in a dream of his evil intentions, the Magi “departed to their own country by another way” (Mt. 2:12).

When we encounter Christ, are we changed? Do we move forward from these encounters with a new and different outlook?

Our world is full of Herods that tempt us to focus on what is not good for our souls. How can we live as Christians in the face of a million false stars? How can we cultivate courage to act on behalf of the Kingdom of God?

May God work in your hearts so that you act with courage for His Kingdom.

First Step Forward

Shepherd's Field - altar close up v2How fitting that my first post is on the Solemnity the Epiphany of the Lord! Like the Magi, I’m on a journey seeking the King. The path is sometimes unclear, but as long as I follow my Guide, I can find my way to the Heavenly home.

Like the Magi, we are all asked to go out into the world not only to seek Christ for ourselves, but to bring others to Christ. God has given each of us gifts, and we are meant to use our gifts to adore Him. And by using our time, talents, and treasures to help others, we reflect God’s love to our neighbor.

Normally, January 4th (today) is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, my confirmation saint. She was the first native-born American to be canonized and is known for her devotion to the education of underprivileged children.

Happy New Year!

Photo: Baby Jesus (Shepherd’s Field, Israel)