On the Feast of the Epiphany we remember the visit of the three Magi to the Christ child in Bethlehem. They help illustrate the mystery of how God works in us, through us, and with us to accomplish the work of salvation in the lives of individuals.
The saints are concrete examples of that happening, and that dynamic is constant through the ages. From the call of the prophets, to the call of John the Baptist, to the Magi seeking a special child, to Jesus calling his first disciples, to the lives of the saints, God draws us to himself and works through us to draw others as well.
It’s more than good example. It’s the power of Christ’s presence working in the hearts of us all, and our becoming more aware of that presence and acting on it. Our work, our ministry, is not so much bringing people to Christ, but rather helping people to become aware that Christ is already present in our life and to pay attention to that presence, to treasure that presence and to live by it.
In the Gospel readings on the days following Christmas and Epiphany we don’t hang around very long in Bethlehem at the manger or with the Magi, and we don’t linger in Jesus’ childhood years. Instead we plunge right into the reason Jesus came–“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Jesus calls, and people follow. It happened in the lives of the saints, and it continues to happen in our life as well.
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)
Images in this post are from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Boston.