There are two points Pope Francis mentioned in a couple of his recent daily homilies which I want to emphasise and link with TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 15: 1 - 3....
If we take a careful look at
OUR OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 60: 1 – 6] we will notice that the only person who “has come” (arrived) is the Lord. The prophet tells us to “lift up your eyes round about, and see” that everyone else mentioned is travelling. ….. “nations shall walk … all gather … come from afar … a multitude … all those shall come … they shall bring.”
Notice as well that
OUR PSALM [72 or 71] tells us that all the travellers will be cared for by the Lord: “he shall save the needy … those who are helpless …. the weak.”
PILGRIMS! Now recall what was said last week about the one “whose heart is set on pilgrim ways.” Then note that TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 2: 1 – 12] tells us that “Wise Men from the East came.” The Wise Men were pilgrims. They had travelled. At the same time the Gospel extract, at the very end, informs us that “they departed to their own country by another way.” After giving their gifts they travelled further but they journeyed another way. They did not stubbornly stick to the known and trusted. Their encounter with the Christ Child changed their attitudes and approaches.
Our celebration of Christmas must not imprison us in some sort of fairy-tale routine, no matter how comfortable we may find it. Rather, it must empower us to travel onwards by another way. Christmas is supposed to make a difference – make
US different. As Saint Paul tells us in OUR NEW TESTAMENT READING [EPHESIANS 3: 2 – 3a. 5 – 6] “you have heard of the stewardship …. that was given to me for you.” We have been given a stewardship of something very special and this is for the benefit and enrichment of others. This sort of stewardship will never be exercised if we imprison ourselves with outdated methods. Pilgrims and travellers have to adapt to ever-changing locations, stages and circumstances.
All this connects with what was said last week – especially about us being members of a
PILGRIM CHURCH, a Church on the move and a family which empowers and engenders growth. Recall what Pope Francis said about the Church being a bridge not aroadblock. If we read the Gospel extract carefully, we should notice that King Herod was locked in a time-warp as well as a status /power syndrome which was partial to the protection of the status quo. Herod knew well enough that a Messiah had been promised. When he had completed “assembling all the chief priests and scribes” he did not enquire about the ‘what’ or the ‘who’ of this promised king but, simply “inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” The king failed to recognise that his stewardship has been entrusted to him for the benefit of others, not for himself. He had become a roadblock, not the bridge he should have been.
The Gospel extract tells us that they
“heard the king (and) went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East went before them.” The Wise Men continued their journey and went with the Star, not with Herod. We must have the courage to ‘go with the star’, not with the roadblocks. The Star is always there if we are on the lookout.
In following the Star they were led to The Child, and offered their gifts. At long last
“they rejoiced exceedingly … opening their treasures … they offered him gifts.” Only then did they “depart to their own country by another way.”
We must learn to offer our gifts, leave them to be used by the Star, and happily go on our way. Our way will be different after we have made the offering. We do not seek to retain control over their use. We have given them away.
Like the Wise Men we must continue to open our treasures, give and go on our way. There is still a journey to be made. We always remain
PILGRIMS who avoid roadblocks while looking for, and making, bridges.