"revelation of the whatness of a thing,"
the moment when
"the soul of the commonest object [...] seems to us radiant."
- attributed to James Joyce
[ The Readings for the Feast of the Epiphany – the story of the Three Kings led by a star to the Infant Jesus – can be found at:
A fully-alive, vibrant, powerfully loving and compassionate human being is a threat to many! Such a person challenges any one of us who lives for “earthly” power and control … something we all, at some level and at some times in our lives, are tempted to – more often than perhaps we would like. The story of the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents by King Herod illustrates this.
The Magi – Wise Men from the East – come seeking a King … a figure which to them would represent Divinity, as their gifts imply. The Magi were not seeking just an Israelite king, but a showing forth, a revelation – an “epiphainein” (Greek), an epiphany of the Presence of the Divine in the World. What is “the divine”? An important question. I think, as I ponder the world’s religions and faiths, that it is essentially Compassion, which binds all things together in the deep Mystery of Love.
Not only does Jesus represent this Holy Epiphany; He also represents you and me. The manger represents the core center of each of us … that place where the Divine Compassion is “born” and resides - that which makes us fully human, alive.
A hymnologist once wrote the simple words, “wise men continue to seek Him”. The story of the Magi seeking Jesus is the journey each of us is on, of discovering and nourishing the Compassion and Love which will make us fully human.
The poet John Keats wrote:
Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced - even a proverb is not a proverb till your life has illustrated it.
To illustrate by our daily lives “Divine Compassion” is the path that this beautiful story calls us to each year … the installation of Love at our core, and the daily work of avoiding all those things destructive to our deepest and finest humanity that Herod represents.