The strong, the knowledgeable, and the wise

Readings for January 3, 2021

The Epiphany of the Lord

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:2, 7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

Some among us are strong leaders, some have great knowledge, and some are truly wise. Rarely, however, does a person we follow possess all three of these traits. A strong leader often has a great gift of persuasion, sometimes regardless of their knowledge or wisdom. A person of knowledge has great intellect but not always a full understanding of what to do with what they know other than to share what they believe are informative tidbits. The wise, however, possess understanding that comes from lived experiences, often guiding their way through the complexity of chaos and a journey of unknowing, where full understanding only comes in what is revealed on the way.

The magi undertook such a journey. And along the way they encountered the strong (Herod) and the knowledgeable (the scribes and priests). They followed the guidance of the star, took in the knowledge of the scribes and the priests, and found the infant king to whom they bowed down and worshipped.

For their part, the powerful king was jealously disturbed, “and with him all of Jerusalem.” The knowledgeable scribes and priests, knowing of the prophecy, had pointed the magi in the direction of Bethlehem, but did not follow. Rather, they remained steadfast in following a powerful, tyrannical king. As would be mirrored in his ministry, from the beginning Christ was revealed to the lowly (shepherds) and the wise (magi), but not to the powerful and knowledgeable.

For my own epiphany story, it is important that I consider whom I follow. Do I chase potential fortune and fame following the powerful? Do I seek to consume knowledge, perhaps losing myself in the pursuit of tidbits and details, forgetting the bigger picture of a full understanding? Or do I follow the wise on their journey of revelation? It seems, in order to truly follow the wise, I must let go of the allure of power and the prestige of knowledge. While all that I am given is a gift, some of those gifts will help lead me to Christ more than others. Between the powerful, the knowledgeable, and the wise, I think I’ll try to follow the wise.

My Lord Jesus, you fully manifested yourself to the humble and lowly. You still do that today, abjuring those of self-importance or honor seeking. That is the wisdom I need in my life. Grace me with that gift so that I may always see, and follow, you. Amen

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