The visit of the magi to the child Jesus has always been my favorite feast in the Church’s year. I love the mystery and symbolism of the epiphany. As life gets back to normal on January 2nd, I always feel Christmastime never really ends until January 6th.
As I ponder the mystery of the story, I can’t help but long for some of its features to become more prominent in the Church.
For me, this story is about two things, STARS and GIFTS. Growing up I was taught that the main meaning of the story was a reaching out of God to the whole world; I still hold this as important. However, as I look at the Church I am part of, I see it so bound up in structure. Much social media at the moment is dominated by the Church’s treatment of women, LGBTQ issues, and a constant struggle between so-called liberals and conservatives; and these are important issues but they can often detract us from what is important in the story of this Christmastime.
The story of the epiphany makes me long for a church which emphasizes the gift of the individual and the gifts they bring to the world. Rather than reducing us to certain aspects of our identity, such as our gender, our sexuality, or our status as ordained or lay, I long to see people acknowledged, more for their common identity, as children of God, who are gifted by God in unique and creative ways and who can present these gifts to our church and our world.
The new cosmology has opened my spirituality and prayer more than anything else I have been exposed to in my life. The lessons of the stars and their elements in my own body, make me look upward, inward and outward at the span of the universe, so beautiful and full of promise, for all. It makes me long for a church which follows the stars and what they teach us about the God of mystery, beauty, light and wonder.
“O, star of wonder, star of light,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.”
(John H. Hopkins 1857)
Happy feast of the Epiphany!
Thanks for reading,
Victoria L. Battell, RSM