Journey of the Magi

Recently, I was in a situation where I needed to gently defend with several non-Catholic friends the importance of our practice of celebrating the season of Christmas until the Feast of the Epiphany. Certainly, it would be convenient to tuck away the tinsel and the ornaments when we’re all taking time off from work, and the world around us seems to have already moved on. In fact, the stores have already begun hawking the conversation hearts and Valentine’s Day cards.

But this time between the Birth of Our Savior and the arrival of the Magi is not something we should dismiss easily. Like the magi, we are invited to make this pilgrimage. When I think of the journey of the magi, T.S. Eliot’s poem comes to mind. Although our journey is less literal than their own, we do have one to make. We’ve prepared ourselves for His coming in the manger, but now the real work begins. How will the miracle change us? Because it must. The magi visited the infant child and left changed and inspired. They each traveled home, knowing that nothing would be the same in their respective kingdoms. Has His birth changed us?

As we begin in earnest our parish’s Year of the Eucharist, we have an opportunity, in a way, to make this pilgrimage with the kings time and again. Each time we come together for Holy Mass, we find Him and, just as the kings would never be the same after finding Him in the manger, we can allow ourselves to be transformed by what we find when we arrive. How would the Mass be different for you if you imagined yourself approaching Him with the kind of recognition and awe the magi did on that cold night in Bethlehem?

God bless each and every one of you on your own journey.

Epiphany blessings and a very happy New Year,

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

The Journey Of The Magi by T.S. Eliot
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

 

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