key to wisdom

Jan 2, 2022


The Adoration of Magi”
by Emil Nolde (1933)

Today marks the final Advent / Christmas FFF email post and today’s feast of the Epiphany is a perfect high to finish on.

A healthy human is an adventurer on a journey and the spiritual life is often spoken about as the following of a hunger and a yearning for God.

The Magi were wise because they were searchers, perhaps astronomers and/or astrologers, adventurers on a mission in search of life’s meaning and purpose, and willing to leave home comforts and securities in their quest.

Many people’s prayers consist of pleading that a distant God will come to lift them and those they love out of the difficult circumstances of the present moment. Of course God does not hesitate to answer these desperate prayers and the Magi who sought Christ may well have been driven by such motivations.

But the Magi then found the one whom they sought. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that they were found by Christ, and this encounter with their God in the unexpected form of a helpless baby changed their lives forever.

When they began their journey home a few hours later they were different. As Eliot ponders in his Journey of the Magi, “We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation…”

Perhaps this is because the Magi as they returned home after their encounter with Christ were less searchers and more pilgrims who had been found by Christ who had always been seeking them.

From the moment of this encounter with Christ these wise men became even more wise, no longer simply seeking in the external signs of stars and guided by random conversations with strangers. The new wisdom of the Magi was that they now knew how to listen for and recognise the voice of Christ dwelling within each of them.

On their journey to Christ they needed external signs and asked “where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” Now that they had been found by Christ they were able to trust the divine voice within and had the courage to change direction as led by the Spirit of God: “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,  they departed for their country by another way.”

While much of the time we may feel lost searching for and grasping at any path that promises quick satisfaction, the central fact of our faith is that we have already been found by the one whom we seek.

We are therefore not only those who seek, but they who have been found.

And this central fact of our faith makes all the difference.


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  1. What if as Church we focussed more on helping people encounter Jesus in the ordinary circumstance of their lives and through the sacraments rather than focus on appeasing God who has already promised us salvation.What difference would that make to our World and how we treated one another not just near but afar.

  2. John
    Thanks for your insights and mediations since the beginning of Advent. Prayful good wishes to you and your work.
    Michael McCabe ⁷

  3. It’s a great way to finish the Christmas season, a reminder that all wise people go looking for Jesus. After following the star to find him, they then return to whence they came on a mew path provided by the Lord and become the star to illuminate the path the path they took so others can find him.

    Carry on team, there’s a big year of ligthing the path coming up.


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