Monday, January 6, 2014


This year, I got more out of the Three Kings story than I ever did before.  It is connected to a well prepared homily delivered by a young priest.  It astounds me when I am confronted by the truth that the Divine Mysteries continue to challenge the Faith of the righteous to achieve deeper and deeper understandings of the same immutable reality Who is Our God.  It moves me to think that I could be a prisoner of my own comfort with the grace of Faith as I use it in my habitual behavior to come to understand God more deeply and more clearly.
It is enlightening to see that God's grace of light seeps through different cracks in the minds and hearts of disciples who have different points of view about the world that God creates around us. It is always interesting to come to a point of clarity about the valid expressions of faith of a person less than one half my age.  In this last case, he is only .33 of my age.  The miracle of Christmas Grace manifested in him on this given Sunday is still shaking me and I do not know when it is going to stop.  If ever.  
To begin with, he was straightforward and forceful in his opening statements.  He was expounding on the truth that the three individuals in the story were seekers.  They were curious and they let their curiosity help them to learn.  He exhorted the faithful sitting before him to seek deeper knowledge and understanding of the Loving God.  Attending church is not enough.  You have to go out of your way to expose yourself to the reality of God in the Bible, in other books, in conferences offered by the parish management.  We must be curious enough to follow the light.  The light of the grace of Wisdom.  The Star that leads to the vision of God.

Then he moved on to accede to the point of insecurity in what was being pursued in our lives.  The insecurity that dims the light of Faith.  It is in this time of dimness that we have to ASK.  Pull off the road for a minute and inquire.  The answer may or may not be the exact fit for the grace that God has in mind for us, but it will be an encouragement to get up and continue on our way.  In the response we will learn something.  In the response we will feel the satisfaction that we had the strength to trust someone else.  In the case of the Three Seekers, the answer was not totally truthful, but there was enough truth in it to set them on their way again.  The insecurity of the darkness was dispelled.  The light came back and they reached their goal.  

Finally, lesson number three for me.  This is the one that doesn't want to let go.  There is a very deeeep lesson in the decision that the Three Seekers made to take a different way to go back home.  They sought the source of the light.  They asked for help when they needed it.  When they had found what they sought, it was so great that they espoused it to their very depths.  The light spoke to them as it had spoken to Joseph.  Like Joseph, they listened.  They came to satisfy themselves.  They left to satisfy God.  They ACTED.  They took the road that the light showed them, not only as they sought but as they were fulfilled as well.  They learned that they had done the Will of God, and they loved it and decided to follow it.  They did not leave by another way to escape from Herod.  They left by another way because that is what God told them to do.  It was their "fiat" as much as Mary's had been; as much as Joseph's had been.  Isn't that what we are called to do?  It sure is.


The Lamb was born, so the shepherds came for Him
Did you ever think of it that way?  Who else gets to be at the birth of a lamb?  Besides the ewe, I mean.  No one.  The shepherd is the midwife.
Shepherds?  Those stinky,smelly, oily, sweaty smelling. never-take-a-bath kind of people get to hear the angels singing before anyone else?  Of course.  It had to be the shepherds.  They were on the job.  They didn't have to be awakened.  They were there, watching, waiting, ready, ever vigilant.  Again, who else?
Who else would be simple and accepting of a lighted sky, sweet music and a comforting invitation to not be afraid?  Uneducated, simple field folk would be happy to have a change in the nightly routine.  They would not ask questions.  They would not run back to the Scriptures to find out who this really could be.  No way.  Let's go.
Finally, it fits the pattern.  God reveals Himself to those who have the least tendency to doubt and the greatest tendency to let their curiosity run free. From Genesis to Revelation, the simple and the curious get the call, and always with that suave invitation, "Do not be afraid."  It's the call that the marginalized wait for.  God and the Godly are the true fit for the marginalized.  The shepherds didn't just happen to be there that night.  They were always there.  On the job.  The fields, the sheep, the birds, the stars and the moon are all that they had.  That one night though, they had a special Lamb to care for and they knew just how to do it...generously and without fear.  
Like the Pope said, "A true missionary smells like sheep."  
Come to think of it, that's perhaps why most of them are celibate!

So, that's one of my "take-aways" from this Christmas.  Be a shepherd.  God loves those who smell like sheep.