Our faith is over 2000 years old, our thinking is not…

 

Well, Lent has finally arrived, and I guess it did so without much fanfare. I suppose, that is how Lent should arrive; inconspicuously, movingly, deeply, and with a gentle persistence that will call us to become better than we were at its conclusion, than today at its commencing.

We, as a parish and a ministry team, have been preparing ourselves for literally months now. Our liturgy, events, and dedicated opportunities for sinking deeply into Lent have cumulated into one of the finest Lenten seasons we have ever planned as a community of faith. This Lent will be different because we have all worked so hard to make it so, but that calls each of us to participate fully if we expect to get something out of it in the end. I pray we all will do so.

But Lent is not devoid of its joys, subdued as they may seem. I reflected on a funny Facebook meme I saw yesterday when posting on my personal page. It was the famous character, “Grumpy Cat” and he was positioned this time in from of a high altar within a large gothic Cathedral and the words emblazoned over the image read, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of The Year: Lent”! 

The image reminded me that the Cross, as tortuous a death machine as it was, still allows us, as Christians, to sing Alleluia from the very depths of our graves – in whatever form they come in life and in death –  because of what Jesus did for us. So, there is always some grateful joy around the edges of deep penitence and sorrow, in Lent, too.

That is why we chose to launch our new Livestream today on Ash Wednesday! Now, you may actually watch many of our services and Masses live when away from the parish. It will also be a grand way to introduce ourselves and our liturgies and deep, unbridled, belief in the One we follow, Jesus, to those who wish to ‘visit’ us online first!

We will begin our Livestream @ Saint Miriam with both Ash Wednesday services today at 12:15pm and 6:30pm. Then, as a weekly routine we will live broadcast Adoration and Weekday Mass every Thursday and our Morning Mass on Sunday morning at 10:30am. Other events will be announced ahead of time.

Another added feature to our beautiful parish is our brand new in-house store! That’s right, on your next visit to Saint Miriam, outside our Library, you will find a beautiful new rotating store kiosk that will offer you many opportunities to make purchases that will benefit the parish and school! From rosaries to books, to statuary, to t-shirts, water bottles, Mass cards, and much more! Stop by, make a purchase, buy a gift and support the parish that is always there for you! At Saint Miriam, you can shop online and now in person to support those who support you!

There is a lot going on, a lot of people to thank, and most importantly, a lot of people who work hard behind the scenes every week to bring you so many opportunities to engage your faith, grow into better human beings, and make the world a better place. All of this hard work brings us new innovations like Parish Apps, eNewsletters, Websites, a strong social media presence, and now livestreaming and a store, too. But all of this is without meaning if we do not do what we are meant to do and worship a loving God every week, change and reflect during Lent, welcome the stranger and the foreigner, love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us, and grow into better Christians and stronger Catholics.

At Saint Miriam, our faith is over 2000 years old, our thinking is not…

 


Is this Lent the one that changes you into something better?

 

Soon it will be Lent. It almost unimaginable, but we have been in planning mode now for the last few weeks! Everyone from Ministry to Liturgy to Design to Music Teams have been working hard to create Lenten Opportunities for you to deepen your faith and find God in new and moving ways. Our 2017 Lenten Schedule is one of the best we have ever out together, but it will need you to set aside some time and commit to becoming a better person, to wanting to find our Lord, and to being willing to give a part of yourself to the One who gave it all to you in the first place. Are you ready for Lent?

As followers of St. Francis at Saint Miriam, we can rely on his life and inspiration to follow the pattern of the Gospel more closely. It will lead us more deeply into the coming Lenten season and perhaps allow us to let go of the troubles of the world, as we try and find a closer relationship with Christ.

The world will always be full of trouble, pain, conflict, and war. Just turn on the news today and we may witness a plethora of the world’s troubles and in some very horrific ways. Even our own lives can seem tense and troubled, too, at times. Debts can be high, income low, and our relationships strained. Days run into weeks and the clock often controls them. Few of us find ways to simply stop, get off the proverbial merry-go-round, and find a place of peace and refuge, if only for a few moments to commune and gain strength from God. But, we must, or we shall perish like the wheat that falls to the earth. Every week we offer brief times of respite; from Adoration to Mass to Rosary, but the truth is few take time out of the ‘busyness’ of their own lives to focus on God. It seems the world – and ourselves included– is so busy we allow selfishness to creep in and we find it difficult to untangle ourselves even for 30 minutes. Then, tragedy strikes, and our first scream is for the God we neglected for years…

How will you dedicate your Lenten focus to God? Are you willing to make an intentional change? Will you promise to attend Mass regularly? Give more of time, talent, and treasure? Will you pray more? Give more of yourself, rather than ‘giving up’ chocolates, or some worldly good? Will you attend Stations of the Cross with your family and teach your children the meaning of what Christ did for us? Will you find a way o let go of one 8-hour day and sink fully into our Lenten Retreat to emerge a new creation? How will you focus your life more on that which lasts, rather than what fades with the passage of time?

Do you really trust God enough to make this Lent the one that changes you into something better?
 
 


Building a Longer Table…

 

The parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the pages of the Gospel of Saint Luke, is clearly and simply about who acts like a neighbor. Remember that it is not the priest, or the Levite, who steps out of the injured man’s path. Instead, it is the foreigner, the schismatic, the Samaritan, maybe the rough equivalent of our culture and world today would be to declare him as the Mexican, or unauthorized immigrant, the alien, or yes, the Syrian refugee. 
 
Upsetting the stereotypes of the day, in the Gospel story referenced, the Samaritan binds the man’s wounds, takes him to an inn, and covers the cost of his care. The Syrian Civil War, and its victims, are our neighbors; those left trapped and besieged in their own country of birth, and we need to begin to be that Good Samaritan if we are also to say we are followers of the gospel and the Christ. We are called to be better neighbors, just like the Good Samaritan.
 
A few weeks ago, in response to the ban on refugees, I made certain that everyone knew that I, as a priest and fellow human being, could not turn my back on refugees. I reminded us all strongly of our duty to uphold and believe in the Catholic social construct of Inherent Human Dignity; a dignity that is inherent, because we are all created in the image and likeness of God. It is something that can’t be taken away. Catholic Social Teaching states that each and every person has value, are worthy of great respect, and must be free from slavery, manipulation, and exploitation. And yes, this includes the refugee, the immigrant, and those seeking asylum. I stated clearly, too, that I would rather see Saint Miriam closed and shuttered, than to see her used as weapon in this fight against fellow human beings. That if it came down to it, I would fling wide our doors and provide sanctuary to anyone seeking refuge. And if that were not good enough for you, then to seek to remove me as your pastor and that I was willing to lose parishioners, sadly, if I must, but I would not turn my back on someone in need. I would not turn my back on the gospel.
 
Well, we lost at least one parishioner that I know of.  She stated that she was a strong ‘Trump supporter’ and that I violated her belief that we should not let in another refugee or immigrant. That the wall should be built and stand firm. That she vehemently disagreed with my position. After hearing about how wonderful Saint Miriam is from her, well, except for this huge obvious huge ‘slip up’, I presume, I queried this, “What if I stood up in a pulpit and stated, ‘Close the borders, screw the huddled masses, refuse the refugee, let the immigrants die in the dessert, after all, they had no business trying to enter this country illegally – it must be us first, crew the world!!” I continued, “Is that the type of priest – the pastor – you want in your pulpit preaching every Sunday? Is there not enough hate in the world…do you really want it preached here, too?”  Let me clear here once again, this is not politics, and this is not anything to do with an Anti-Trump agenda. I could care less who occupies the White House if they violate human rights, I will stand up for the violated. I am priest first, and you should be Christians first! This isn’t about politics; it is about the gospel.
 
What does the Judeo-Christian tradition teach us? At the most basic level, it teaches us to love God and to love our neighbor. So who is our neighbor? This is the very question that an astute and tricky lawyer once asked Jesus! By way of response, Jesus told a story of a traveler who was robbed, beaten, and then left half-dead by the side of road. It’s clear that the man near death is our neighbor. For our purposes, it might also be the person walking under the pitiless desert Mexican sun, or the family crammed in an unseaworthy boat on the high seas from lands far away seeking a better life. If we turn our back on the refugee or the immigrant, we have gone against everything Jesus taught. Everything. Jesus had no fear, no hatred, no malice toward anyone, except he tried to sway the hypocrite. He had only love. I stated the same idea a few weeks ago when I said, “He [Jesus] would have let these people in, no matter where they came from. And, Jesus would have loved them, no matter who they are, or where they were born.” I still maintain it, because I still believe it. I always will.
 
I am not sure if I salvaged this one parishioner, and, to be honest, I am not sure if my stance lost any others. I did tell everyone that you need not agree with me on everything, but you should not tell me to violate my vows as a priest. I never will. What I am sure of is that Christianity teaches that salvation depends, on how truly nations welcome refugees and immigrants. You might read our Scriptures as the ultimate migration narrative. In Hebrew Scripture, God repeatedly enjoins the Jewish people, based on their experience of displacement and persecution, to empathize and identify with refugees and migrants. If someone returned their back on a person seeking refuge, the cold dark desert night could literally kill them. Hospitality had life and death consequences back then…it still does.
 
Pope Francis recently said that, “It is not human to close the door, it is not human to close hearts.” Jesus, too, warned us about becoming lukewarm, and we have learned that when faith becomes tepid it is because the Church has become weak. I pray not here, not at Saint Miriam. 
 
In my mother’s house there was never a stranger. Never one. She taught me to welcome everyone to our table; the stranger, the homeless, the transgender, the discriminated, the lost, and the foreigner. And, without even knowing it, she taught me by doing so how to be a good priest. I hope we will follow the idiom, “If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not a taller fence.”
 
We are, so let us get to building that longer table! There are people to welcome!
 


We Keep Our Eyes on Jesus!

 
What makes a church a home? I know that Saint Miriam is not always the most perfect place, or the place that makes us feel joyful all the time, but compared to the rest of the world, she ain’t that bad, as they say!
 
There are painful memories here, just like within any family. Past hurts that never heal, past pains that need repaired, past words that somehow never see to fade…but this is the case in all families. It is what makes a family a family. But there are many joys to be found here, too, and many ways to honor God and deepen our faith. We work hard to provide these opportunities; to enrich our lives and provide a means to bring God closer.
 

Soon I will be interviewed for a documentary from a world-renowned filmmaker from Sundance Film Festival. He will interview me to show the world that there are priests, and people who make up wonderful parishes, that actually do the work of the gospel. In our original meeting, some months ago, he asked me to sum up what makes Saint Miriam so special and how we stay on course. I said, “It’s simple, and just as complex and difficult, we keep our eyes on Jesus!” And, we do!

In our culture today, everything has become increasingly caustic to human life and human dignity. Words have become more volatile, communication instant and devoid of feeling, rhetoric more hateful, vehicles armored, guns with larger magazines more deadly, social media is harsh, communities less caring, politics more mean-spirited, international relations more and more hostile, and yes, even Jesus has become weaponized.

Church and religion are often nothing more than vehicles to promote hate, separation, division, and a culture of inhumanity and hatred. From the sacred ground of Vatican to the institutional multifaceted compound of Franklin Graham, to a church near you. They are more like clubs than parishes where ‘who is in’ and ‘who should be alienated’ is often determined by the strongest voices, the majority color, the richest and the most powerful, the Pharisees and Sadducees of the day, rather than those who offer inclusion and love. In other words, the weakest are once again on the outside looking in, or stuck behind some large immovable wall, being further oppressed and marginalized by words, voices, and mean-spirited memes on social media, all dubbed as outsiders while the insiders – the rich, the powerful, the in-crowd, and yes, dare we speak it, the often white and well-to-do and non-struggling – are being warmed by the glow of their own denial of the true gospel, as they worship their non-Mexican, non-poverty ridden, non-Afro-Asiatic, non-inclusive, weaponized Jesus and build their walls to keep others out. No, that is not the gospel to me. No, that is not Jesus.

Why would we think that God would love everyone – even those society deems as different – all God’s created, God’s children, their families, their parents, their communities, and even us, those who dare to embrace them; could God not love us as our ancestors, too? Why would we think – and worst project on others – that God would ‘hand them a snake, when they asked for a fish, or a scorpion when they ask for bread’?

Not here. Not at Saint Miriam. We believe and follow the one true God: our Lord, and our Savior, Jesus, He Who is The Christ! The Light of the world! The One Who willingly died a horrible death, and took on our sin, so that all of us – every single soul – black, white, asian and native, gay, straight, rich, poor, transgender; the Democrat and the Republican, and Independent, too, those who can sing and those who can’t carry a tune, as well as the immigrant and refugee, the outcast, the lost, and even the found alike; so that all of us might find true life…

Yes, at Saint Miriam, ‘we keep our eyes on Jesus!’  And, we do!
 
 


Apis Mater!

 

That is the name given to the new Paschal candle we recently purchased as we already begin our preparations for Easter. Yes, I said Easter! You see, liturgically we are always a full season ahead of where the congregation is; that is the only way to ensure that all the preparations, needed items, supplies, plans, staffing, music, and the liturgy itself will be ready.
 
Apis Mater literally translates to “Mother Bee”.  She is a stunningly handsome candle designed by Marklin and when those Exsultet praises are sung from the pulpit at the Great Vigil of Easter, and she is lit for the first time, and Christ lights the way once again after a sorrowful and repentant Lent, the work of the bees, those whose work and product actually created the honeycomb wax the candles is hued from, will also be sung in the work of the precious torch of the Paschal candle whose light will also guide our way as a parish for the year to come!
 

So why this particular candle, this year, among all the choices we had to choose from? Because this introspective candle, with the deeply moving name, will shine with the joy of our community’s life, and honor the discipline of hard work, and the love of concealed sacrifice. Apis Mater!

You see, we are a community built on introspection and hard work. We never shy away from the work of the gospel. That became even more apparent this past week when we embraced my response as a Catholic community of faith, and stood up for the rights of the immigrant and the refugee. Oh sure, there were a few who decided to take their own stand and walk away; there was even the one parishioner who removed his financial support in protest, and to make a solid point against me, he took it from his weekly giving toward my salary fund. He literally took bread from my table in order to prove his view that refugees are unwanted. Not here. Not with me. My response was simple and direct: I will lose everything that I have, I walk away from the parish, and even my own life to protect the right of the refugee and to welcome them and give them sanctuary. You can destroy y home, and try and take away my spirit; you can take bread from my table, but you will not take away the Gospel of Christ from me. Ever. I am a priest.

That is why I have directed my team to try and hire a refugee for the two open positions we have within the parish and school currently. If we can locate a qualified refugee, seeking a better way of life, we will do more than just speak to the current anti-immigrant/anti-refugee sentiment, we will welcome, embrace, and give a home filled with the light of love to someone and all them and their family a place of sanctuary and hope.

We are a community built on the radical inclusion of the gospel and resilient and profound hospitality that pervades all that we do. Or, we are nothing but charlatans.

The vibrant honeycomb design that wraps around our newest Paschal candle pays homage to the dedicated work of the bee; it includes rosettes of myrrh and a design that separates it from others as a reminder of who we are as a people of God.

We are a reminder, too, of what God is in the world and how vibrant a people of hope can be when we work together and love all who come to us…
 
Apis Mater!
 


We Have a Great Team of Minor Super Heroes!

 
We really do! The team that runs Saint Miriam, and all of its extensions, is simply a great team! We do not get to say it enough, or appreciate all their work, or what they do, but once each year we should pause to note the achievements of this remarkable community.
 

So why now? Well, this coming Saturday, this team of dedicated persons will gather for an intense day of prayer, planning, discernment, and decisions for our annual “Saint Miriam Board Retreat”. It is not a normal ‘retreat’ where we take a lot of time to sit quietly and reflect, but rather a ‘working retreat’ where we remove ourselves from the world long enough to try and hear what’s going on, reflect on things to come, and wrap it all up with the ‘still small voice of God’. It is not an easy day. It is a day that requires love, and dedication, and willingness to commit and give back even more. It is a day of surrender; surrender to God and to one another. A day of trust. And this year, to save the parish the cost of going away, we will remain on campus and work within our own walls. We are praying that this will deepen our ability to make wise decisions, and better our direction for the coming year. We ask for your prayers.

And, that is where you all come in! We do ask for your fervent prayers, but also your input. If you have any suggestions, ideas, questions, or even complaints or disagreements now is the time to send them to me. Just drop me a quick email and I will discuss with the team this weekend. After all, we take our fiduciary duty seriously, and we have proven to be strong advocates for every parishioner, as well as good stewards of every dime given to further the mission of Saint Miriam. While my door and heart are always open to you, I know that sometimes folks may be a little intimidated to disagree, or bring ideas to me, so here is your chance! Don’t be shy or bashful! This is your parish, too! We welcome your input.

The past year has seen tremendous growth and our leadership teams of dedicated and loving professionals, many who volunteer long hours, have led us to exceed every possible measure of success! Our school has doubled its student population, our parish is growing in numbers and volunteers, our assets have increased, and our giving is going up, our outreach is evolving to help more and more folks beyond our walls, our facilities are cared for and becoming even more beautiful and future is brighter. And, our historic cemetery has opened not one, but two brand new sections in honor of St Francis of Assisi; one for our fellow humans with Section F: the St Francis of Assisi Green Memorial Section, and one for God’s smaller of creatures in the Angels of Assisi Pet Memorial Garden! Why? Because we maintain the mission of the parish from its founding and welcome everyone without reservation, keep our ‘eye on the ball’ we intimately know as Jesus, and maintain a heart that is extremely hospitable!

So, while this team of ours at Saint Miriam may not be real super heroes, at least not in the traditional sense, they give and care like they are, and each deserves a cape of their own! 

There is much more to come, much more happiness to share, much more to be proud of…Thank you for all you do – from the leadership teams to the folks in the pews – to keep Saint Miriam growing and as lovely as ever! God bless us all…

Here’s to 2017!
 
 
 


Leonard Cohen is Dead, But Not Forgotten.

 

On a Monday in November last year, the hugely influential singer, poet, and songwriter – known as the ‘godfather of gloom’ – and whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died. Famed for the sense of melancholy he would weave throughout his songs, he spoke calmly and with lucidity about death during an interview with the New Yorker Magazine,” I am ready to die,” he said. “I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”
 
I have reflected a lot about death and dying these past few weeks. I think it is why my friend Joey came to me this past Monday. If you read my weekly Franciscan Devotion you would know that Joey was murdered many years ago. I loved him so deeply and not an anniversary of that death goes by without me shedding a tear. But, as life has gotten so busy and complex, Joey somehow fell of my proverbial radar. Not this past Monday. He woke me in the middle of the night. I wept. Joey was as close as ever.
While many of you, even those outstandingly involved in parish work, and who read my blog religiously (no pun intended!), have taken care of your own issues, run your own lives, shuttled your children to and fro, moved about the world without much thought to the church and what’s going on here, I, on the other hand, have been dealing with loss, death, grief, and a lot of pain. In almost as many days, I have celebrated the life of three of our own. That’s right – in just about four days, I was the Celebrant at three funerals. The people who died were all connected to Saint Miriam and to our communal life together. Each had a life, a lover, a family, friends, a career, a past and a present, and many who mourned their passing from this life to God Himself. They were not that different in their individual span of years by age either – each only in their 60’s and 70’s – not making it close to four score and seven…Yes,  for the last week, me and death have become, once again, close friends.
 

Our shared Catholic Faith reminds us that while our deceased loved ones are no longer sensibly present to us in this life, they should now be more alive internally to us – in our memories, our meditations, our prayers and in our dreams – than ever they were when still alive in this world. We know by faith that God is pure love and that His love holds us in existence from the very first moment we come into being. We cannot escape God’s presence. If God were not present to us, we would not exist. That is what we believe. That is what we know to be true.

I believe that is why this past Sunday, in the midst of death and sorrow, God brought us a baptism with joy and promise. God wanted us – and I pray especially me in my troubled spirit – that He was still alive and well. God wanted to remind me, and all of us, that no matter the pain, no matter the loss, no matter the worry or anxiety or now knowing, no matter the depth of our grief, God is still here, still present, still holding us.

I know that our Christ identifies completely with our love for each other and our love for him when it is true love. “When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink. When you showed love to the least of my children, you were giving that love to me. Enter into everlasting life.” (cf. Matthew 25:35f.).

Three human beings are no more. The body dies, but the soul lives on. That is us, that is what we believe, that is why we work so hard and do so much. That is our mission as a parish at Saint Miriam. We take not our faith, not our work, and not a single soul for granted. Become more involved, give more, live more deeply, love more fully. Honor our Christ and all that He has so generously given us; take not it – or those around us – for granted. For one day it will be too late.

Back to Cohen: The 1984 composition, with lyrics full of stark biblical imagery, called “Hallelujah,” a meditation on love, sex, and music that would become Leonard Cohen’s best-known composition, perhaps is a fitting way to end this blog today. “I’ve always been into self-dramatization,” Cohen once said. “I intend to live forever.” 
 
And so he shall. And so shall the ones we buried this week. And so shall we…
 


This Place is a Hoppin’!

 
 

Wowsie, huh?! We are a very busy parish! I have always believed in the folksy idiom, “if you don’t hear the babies a cryin’, then the parish is a dyin!”  and we have lots of babies, lots of baptisms coming up, and lots of activities, events, and changes!

I know that it can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming, (and you should think of how it is from my desk, as pastor)! But, I wanted to remind you that we have always pushed ourselves to be better, grow more, become better Christians, and stronger Catholics by allowing growth and change to come. Yes, there is always some anxiety in change and growth, but what a blessing we have all experienced in what Saint Miriam has become already! Think of what we will usher in this year together!

Over the next couple of months, you will find the Sanctuary painting completed with a beautiful ceiling! A new pulpit installed to match our liturgical furnishings and properly house of AV equipment, a web broadcast of Sunday Mass, a stunning Altar Cross installed high above the Chancel area, and we will begin to build a Friary Rectory to house our pastor (That’s me!) and a couple of new Franciscans who would like to serve at the parish! Also, our Pastor Fund to finally begin to pay a salary to our Pastor (That’s me, again, wow…huh?!!) is almost there with us only falling less than $5,000 short for this year! (Please give generously?)

We also have some wonderful events, too, to keep you entertained and bring needed support to the parish and school! Our Lottery is back for February, so get those tickets! We have a Crockpot Potluck dinner on the 11th of February, A Night at the Races comes on February 25th and a wonderfully moving Lenten Retreat with Sr. Eleanor Francis is scheduled now to deepen your Lenten experience on March 18th! Learn more right Here!

These are just a few upcoming events and changes in addition to our everyday School, and Adoration, and Masses, and Rosaries, and Prayer, and Outreach, and Small Groups, and so many other groups, activities, events, and people caring stuff that we do as a parish community!

Yes, we are a hoppin’ place! So don’t get overwhelmed, and don’t pull back, and don’t feel that you must support each and every thing that we do, but pause and reflect and remember that we are a community of many faces and many needs and to each of those – our fellow parishioners and more importantly, our friends – these activities and events appeal.

So please pray, welcome, and support the areas that appeal to your heart, then just sit back and watch us hop!!

What a beautiful place! What a beautiful people!
 
Welcome to Saint Miriam in 2017!
 
 


Do We Still Seek Him?

 
Christmas is coming to a close. We spent this week preparing our parish for the coming of the Magi. We took down the major Christmas décor and moved the manger scene back to the storage room. We placed the Holy Family and left the angels who must have always surrounded Jesus. And, of course, the three who became known as a collective, ‘the three wise men,’ or magi, whom we identify romantically as Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior.
 
However, we really don’t know the names of the magi because the Bible doesn’t tell us. In fact, the Bible is silent on how many wise men visited Jesus. It could have been three or as many as hundreds! We must remember that whole only a week in our time, the scene of the visit plays out some two+ years later and not at the crèche, as we would have it play out in our versions around the Christmas Tree. However, our tradition holds the view that they were Babylonians, Persians, or Jews from Yemen as the kings of Yemen then were Jews, a view held for example by John Chrysostom. There is an Armenian tradition identifying the “Magi of Bethlehem” as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India. And so, we stick with that version to this very day.
 

These three wise men were men belonging to various educated classes. It is interesting to note that our English word magician comes from this same root derivation. But these wise men were not magicians in the modern sense of sleight-of-hand performers we are so accustomed. Rather, they were of noble birth, educated, wealthy, and influential. They were philosophers, the counselors of rulers, learned in all the wisdom of the ancient East. The wise men who came seeking the Christ child were not idolaters; they were upright men of integrity.

They must have studied the Hebrew Scriptures and found there a clear transcript of truth. The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament must have claimed their attention, and among these they found the words of Balaam in the Book of Numbers that states,“A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel”. And, I would imagine that they were also acquainted with the prophecy of Micah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” and understood the time prophecy of Daniel regarding the appearance of the Messiah and came to the conclusion that His coming was near! So, on the night of Christ’s birth, a mysterious light appeared in the sky, which became a luminous star that persisted in the western heavens, as told to us by the Gospel of Matthew. So impressed with its import, these wise men turned once more to the sacred scrolls. And, like Abraham, they knew not at first where they were to go, but followed anyway as the guiding star led them on their way. And, as we know, wicked King Herod tries to trick these three into giving up the location of the child so he can murder Him. But they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went another way. Again, based solely in faith, these wise men did what was needed to fulfil prophecy, honor Christ, and bring to the world the salvation they would not see yet.
 

There’s an old saying that I love this time of year that says, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” How true this is! The Wise Men came from far away just to pay homage. They probably sacrificed much to travel the long journey and to see this newborn King of the Jews. It makes me wonder about how much effort we are willing to put out in order to do Him homage…

I remind us all Holy Mother Church expects so little of us, really. Just one hour a week for Mass. Confession once a year. Caring for the poor and those on the margins. Opening our heart to Jesus. Many of you reading this will exclaim and unequivocal, ‘What?!?! Mass every week? Come on, Father!!’  Yet, we find that these three “wise men” made a journey of untold length, just to pay Our Lord a very short visit.
 
Their journey was very long, probably at least two years, and they certainly numbered more than two or three, since such long journeys were usually organized in large caravans for security reasons. Whatever their number, they brought gifts to the Messiah; three gifts, in fact, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh…
 
If only we could feel the same way and bring our humble gifts to Jesus every week, too.