Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epiphany: What stars are we following to chart the course of our lives?

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 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."  Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."  After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
The Holy Gospel According To Saint Matthew (2:1-12)

What "stars" are we following to chart the course of our lives?

Once upon a time, there was a boy named "Johnny."
His family consisted of his mother and father and himself.  

His father was a common laborer who could barely provide for his family.
His mother was chronically ill, constantly in need of medical care that the family could hardly afford.
Life was a succession of small apartments, meager meals, second and third-hand furniture, and hand-me-down clothes from friends and neighbors.

All the boy wanted to do was escape his poverty -- and he did.
He focused on school and work. With craftiness and luck, he rapidly worked his way up the corporate ladder, amassing an impressive fortune along the way.

Along that way, his mother’s illnesses brought about her death.
Because he was ashamed of his parents and their poverty, he deliberately kept away from his father -- only phoning him on rare occasions, never going to visit him.

By the age of forty, he had realized the American dream: a prestigious position with a New York investment firm, a beautiful home and family, and more than enough money to live securely and comfortably all his days. The poverty of his childhood was but a faded memory.
Then his father died. As far as he was concerned, his father died a failure.

Weeks after his father's death, he went to the small, rundown apartment where his father had lived alone. He was embarrassed by the old rickety furniture, the stained and faded walls, the few possessions that comprised his father's "estate."

In the bedroom closet, he found a box marked “Christmas Stuff.”  Inside he found the papier-mâché angel that crowned their small Christmas tree every year; the construction paper ornaments he and his mother had crafted together; the glass bulbs and bells; the strings of lights; and, wrapped in faded newspaper, the pieces of the family's manger scene. For a few moments he was a boy again, reliving the joy of those Christmases -- when he was still too young to realize how poor his family was. As he returned each item to the box, an incredible sadness overcame him.
Then he discovered an envelope taped to the bottom of the manger. Inside was a letter written in his father's hand. It was dated "Christmas 1955." The letter began with his father's usually greeting: "Hi, Johnny."  
I'm your daddy. I've waited so long to say that. How can I describe what it means to be your daddy? Words don't come easily to me, but here goes. Johnny, to be your daddy means picking you up when you fall and holding you when you are afraid. Being your daddy means loving you just because you are my son, the best part of who I am. There's so much in my heart, so many dreams for you. You have brought joy into our lives, a joy that your mom and I thought we'd never know.Johnny, a few weeks before your mom and I were married, the doctors gave us the sad news that, because of Mom's many physical problems, we could never have a child of our own. We were crushed. Every morning and every night, we prayed on our knees asking God for a miracle. Months turned into years and then, much to everyone's surprise, you were born at 12:01 A.M. on December 8th. Because of you, Christmas carries a special meaning for us.Son, I'll never be rich. But I believe that if God could help us find our way to you, God will carry us every step of the way. We'll always have each other and that's more than I ever hoped for, much more than I probably deserve. Some day, Johnny, you'll understand how I'm feeling. Just keep in mind who you are, where you've come from, and how much you are loved.Hold the blessings of Christmas close to your heart, because you are one of them. You are forever our miracle child.
Love, Daddy.
Johnny sat there in tears, clutching the most valuable piece of paper he had every held. 
He realized how rich his parents were -- and how poor he had become.
What "stars" are we following to chart the course of our lives?
Like the three Magi's search for Our Lord Jesus, the newborn king of the Jews, our lives are a constant search for meaning, for purpose, for God – and – for the things of God.
The Epiphany Gospel of Saint Matthew asks us to consider the "stars" we are following to navigate our lives: 
  • Do we navigate by the "stars" that lead us to wealth, to power, to prestige -- "stars"  that change, move beyond us so we can’t keep up with them – "stars" which eventually flame out of the sky altogether?
  • Or do we navigate our lives on the stars of God: peace, compassion, mercy, justice, forgiveness?
It is never too late to discover, as "Johnny" discovered late in HIS life's journey, that the true treasures of life are only found in the things of God.

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
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