Bishop Robert Barron uses Matthew's Gospel story of the Three Magi to caution us against seeking a spirituality unrelated to God and one's faith. I encountered such an apart-from-God spirituality firsthand when I heard a CBS Sunday Morning contributor say that her mother went to Mass every morning "for the same reason I go running every morning" - to find and be with herself. It sounded to me as if the daughter's spirituality was totally independent of her religious beliefs. Did her mother really go to Mass to find and be with herself or had she found herself to be of God and was she going to Mass to enjoy and thus deepen her relationship with God?
A valuable part of the mother's daily Mass routine was her listening to the Mass' Scripture readings about God's across the ages relationship with God's People. Her own relationship with God readied her to hear the Word of God. For her “God is not a distant force but a person that speaks and acts in history.”
Matthew’s Magi are astrologers. Using the skills of their profession, they followed a star to Jerusalem, but to find the "newborn king of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2) they need the chief priests and scribes of the Israelite religion to tell them that according to 2 Samuel 5:2 "the messiah is to be born in Bethlehem." Bishop Barron encourages us, like the Magi, to let our self-driven spirituality "give way to something higher, richer, deeper." He affirms our "learning what we can from philosophy and mythology, listening with all our hearts and gaining from the spiritual wisdoms of all the great traditions" but he recommends that we do so realizing that all of this "remains incomplete unless and until it draws us to the God revealed in that baby born in straw poverty" for that baby is the "manifestation of divine love which made the whole universe and which seeks us out with the passion of a mother or a father."
Finally, the Magi teach us that it is not our seeking that matters most; it is that we are sought after by a God who "hunts us down, a God who breaks open his own heart for us." Barron concludes that "our spiritual seeking must give way, surrender and allow us to be found. It is this shift from seeking something outside of ourselves to allowing ourselves to be found that is the purpose of this story of the Journey of the Magi."
It is not too late for us to make a New Year's resolution to let our spiritual seeking give way to surrendering to God, that Someone outside ourselves Who is also within ourselves - as close to us as our own flesh and blood that this Someone lets flow within us.
CLICK HERE to listen to Bishop Barron's Epiphany homily.