January 7, 2008

The Searchers

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Matthew 2:1-12 “Where is the King of the Jews?”
January 6, 2008

One day, Nemo, a small fish went out of the sea to search for the ocean. When he saw the shark he asked, "Where is the ocean?" and the shark answered, "Nemo, you are swimming in the ocean!" Nemo just swam away and asked the whale, "Where is the ocean?" The whale said, "You are swimming in the ocean!" But Nemo just swam away and continue searching.

Today's gospel speaks of two kinds of searchers of God: The wise men as the "genuine searchers" and King Herod as the "self-centered searcher." Matthew challenges us to ask ourselves what kind of searchers are we?

King Herod's desire to see Jesus was not to worship but to kill the child. He wanted no other king but himself. Caesar Augustus quoted, "I'd rather be Herod's pig than Herod's son. Herod didn't eat pigs, but he murdered his sons for fear of taking his throne.” Selfishness can blind us. Spiritual blindness can lead us not to find the real treasure - God Himself.

On the other hand, the wise men's desire to see Jesus was to worship the King of all kings. In full humility, without any selfish intentions, they only wanted to pay homage to the newly born King. God loves genuine searchers and He reveals Himself to them. The scripture says “faith can move mountains,” but genuine prayer can move God. Like the wise men, those who seek God earnestly will never be disappointed. The wise men had one thing in their mind: To see the King and to accept His rule in their life - that is worship worthy of God. Selflessness makes us see God. When the wise men found Jesus, they found the real treasure. When one finds Jesus, all earthly treasure becomes secondary! It is epiphany - An inspired understanding arising from connecting with profound insight, awareness, or enlightened truth.”

Last Christmas eve, a friend of mine went to SM CDO for her last minute Christmas shopping. She was so excited to spend Christmas with her family. She even spent her 13th month pay for her family’s noche buena and bought nothing for herself. She got a small piece of ham, ingredients for sweets spaghetti, a loaf of bread, and a can of fruit cocktail for salad. It was a traditional noche buena feast in the making. But when she arrived home, her father scrutinized her things and said bluntly, “Ito lang ang dala mo?” Tears flowed from her eyes. It was Christmas. Which one is more important? The gift or the Giver? The wise men knew the answer. Herod did not.

We may find ourselves cursing the father’s insensitivity. But we might fall into the same trap. God is an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) for many of us. Sometimes we measure the “love of God” to the number of His “answered prayers.” Somehow we are insensitive to the Giver because our eyes are fixed on the gifts we want to receive. We seek for the gift and not the giver of gifts. God has feelings and it hurts. The grace of epiphany escapes us when we failed to see that finding Jesus is finding everything. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you (Luke 12:31).

Be wise! Follow the trail of the wise men. Go to Bethlehem. See Jesus and the search ends.

“When I see the eternal God wrapped in a swaddling clothes, when I hear the poor cry of the Divine Word made flesh, O Mary, I no longer envy the angels, for their powerful Lord is now my dearest Brother!” (Therese of Lisieux)

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