Knowledge is a shifty thing – it is unquestionably worthwhile pursuing and yet I find the more I learn, the more I realize – with delight – how much I have yet to discover… (which is helpful when I need an excuse to acquire new books!) The thing about knowledge, though, is that it can either help or hinder our openness to the experience of wonder and awe. For example, countless scholars have studied the historical Jesus and never experienced the wonder of what it means to actually KNOW him.
For “the wise men from the East” in St. Matthew’s gospel, wisdom was not a barrier to being open to God’s revelation; rather, it was the key. When they saw the Star of Bethlehem, they didn’t try to explain it away; they were wise enough to acknowledge this was a wonder they had to go experience for themselves.
Over the past weeks, I have been preparing for an intensive course by pre-reading an enormous amount of scholarly material, and – God-willing – I will retain at least some of it and come out much more knowledgeable. I love that, but what is even more exciting is when – totally outside of my own efforts – I get to experience little moments of revelation, wonder, and awe that deepen my relationship with the living Christ.
The Magi – or Wise Men – are symbols of God’s revelation to the Gentiles, but I also like to imagine they are a reminder that no matter how knowledgeable we can become, it is important to stay open to that wonder and awe which cannot be earned, or studied, or manufactured… it can only be received as a gift from God.
As we enter Epiphany – the celebration of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ – my wish for all of us is that our hearts and minds may remain open to notice moments of awe and wonder, and to richly experience the gifts of God’s self-revelation in wonderful and unexpected ways.
Download service booklet for Sunday, January 3, 2020 here: Liturgy at Home The Epiphany Jan 3 2021