In our Chapel, the door of the Tabernacle is adorned with the scene of the Adoration of the Magi. There Our Lady holds the Christ Child, with St. Joseph standing near, as the Magi present their gifts to the Baby King. How appropriate that this scene from Matthew’s Gospel is portrayed on the Tabernacle! For many come from East and West to adore Him, the hidden King. Many come to lay their gifts, as well as their hearts, their sufferings and their hopes before Him, truly Present in the Holy Eucharist. And Our Lady holds Him out so that all may adore Him, as if she is saying: “He is for all.”
Along with Corpus Christi and Holy Thursday, Epiphany is a special Feast day for us PCPAs – and fittingly so as our life is dedicated to doing just what those Magi did: ADORING. Their journey is much like each of our vocation stories: We saw the star, the light. We did not fully understand what following the star meant…but we knew, in faith, that what lay at the end of that journey would fulfill all our dreams and our hopes. And so we began with that first step into the great unknown. That first step away from all that was familiar, and toward all that was shrouded in both mystery and hope. And when at last we arrived in Bethlehem, so to speak, – on the day of our Profession – as our ‘gifts’ were laid upon the altar and presented to this King, we knew that the real gift was not so much what we gave, but what we received. Our gold, frankincense and myrrh were given, as was our heart, our soul, our very life. Given, and – oh wondrous humility of our God – not only were they received, but His Heart treasured them! Given, with joy. Given, in full freedom. Given, as a culmination of this journey. Given, as a means of adoration. Given, because He is all in all.
I enjoy spending time gazing at the Nativity scene, especially after the Kings arrive! Each Nativity set portrays them quite differently. The one we have in our house Chapel touches me most deeply. The Magi, each one of them, have a look of such WONDER on their faces. Almost as if they are stupefied! Speechless before the incredible reality that lay before them. Almost as if they just can’t believe that they are actually there! I imagine they also must have been felt such reverence, such awe, such emotion, such an incredible expansion of their hearts when at last they beheld that Babe, and His mother and father, and their poverty.
So what did they receive? Was their journey worth it?
They looked into the very face of God. And falling down, they worshiped. Yes, I say with confidence, that when they received a look of love from God, they felt their journey was well worth it, and they felt their kingly gifts paled before the great Gift of the Father that was presented to them. And falling down, they worshiped. They received the great privilege of being able to give a gift to this Baby King…what did they give? faith, hope, love, adoration, trust, joy, homage, gold, frankincense, myrrh, and – dare we say, most likely – a kiss!
They received love. Not an experience of love. Not a feeling of love. But LOVE itself. Love Incarnate. And falling down, they worshiped.
I don’t know, you tell me, what do you think: “Was their journey worth it?”
To those who, with either skepticism or sincerity and concern, look at our life as PCPAs, who look at the life of any contemplative and ask: “Why would you make this journey? Aren’t you throwing away your gifts? Aren’t you wasting your life?”, with the Magi and using the words of the great Jesuit poet Robert Southwell, I say:
“Gift better than Himself God cannot give.
Gift better than His God, man cannot know.
God is my Gift, Himself freely gave me,
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.”
He is SO worth it!
A blessed Feast of the Epiphany to you all!
O Come Let Us Adore Him…