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By definition, the word epiphany denotes a moment of sudden insight or revelation in its secular meaning. For the Christian, it is a manifestation of Christ to all people as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12). The story of the Magi is a favorite of mine. Not only because their journey speaks to my wanderlust, but because they were following a journey invoked by their spirituality. I recently heard an intriguing homily, which focused on the seeking and searching aspects of the Magi for the child king. I reflected on the importance of the Magi's awareness of the child king's coming, the God-Man, who would be humanity's salvation as prophetized in ancient writings. The Magi story illustrates and provides an example for all ages of how we come to find God.

God set the stage for His plan to send His only begotten son to save humankind long before the Magi were born or you and I; however, we still follow the goal of finding God in the same way. Remember, our original sin thwarted His plan for humanity. Only God could rewrite the wrongs of this sin, and every other sinful offense humans would make through a redemptive plan of salvation. Fast forward in Marian theology and Christology, to effectively create a new Adam and a new Eve to undo the damage. The free-will acceptance of the Virgin Mary and Jesus to God's holy will is crucial and worthy of another future blog. The free-will choice of the Magi is also vital to the story. If you think about it, they could have decided not to travel, for it was a long, challenging, and expensive journey. They could have decided not to bother to read or study ancient writings. If they were kings from Persia, they would have been chosen or anointed into service. However, they could have chosen not to acknowledge this path and do something else with their life. They could have chosen not to listen to the message they received in a dream (Matthew 2:12) and returned to Herod with the child's location. They could have even chosen different gifts; however, the gold, frankincense, and myrrh they brought for the Christ child acknowledged their understanding of who they had found.

My point in all of this reflection is to state that we have a free will choice to follow God’s plan for our life. Seeking and searching for God is built into our soul's nature. Notice I didn't say the body. The human body and soul, though together, find their fulfillment in two different realms - the earthly and the spiritual world. There lies the rub. When we deny the aspect of our spirituality and connect to the Creator, we deny who we are. Many do not realize these two distinct natures. We get so busy with the physical growth and development that our soul's evolution is neglected or malformed. James W. Fowler, Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian - Adult Development and Christian Faith, looks at spiritual development stages in his book. Sadly, sometimes people stop growing spiritually, and then they wonder why God or "religion-stuff" doesn't make sense to them. According to Fowler, they are stuck in a development stage because something is holding them back, be it emotional immaturity or trauma, and prevent them from moving forward, so their biological age doesn't match their spiritual stage. I learned of this book during my graduate study in pastoral ministry. It is personally enlightening and has also become a useful tool with my patient and family encounters. It is one of my personal favorites.

Take a lesson from the Magi; the only way to find God and develop a personal relationship with Jesus is to seek and search. God welcomes the chance to show you how to grow. Each step forward abounds in grace to support you and nurture your development. God has a plan for our life, and the reason for our existence is to know, love, and serve Him in the days that we have on earth. Notice there is no what do I want to do with my life question. When you understand your place and role in creation, you are immediately free from this trivial question. Understanding our part in God's plan allows us to use the gifts given to forward the will of God. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) comes to mind. Many of life's pitfalls stem from our desires and ego. We want what we want when we want it, and we have an immature development in the virtues of love. We tend to blame God when hardship and trials come upon up. God does not wish any difficulty on us; however, He may allow it to happen because He is trying to get your attention to bring us back to him. Remembering God always has our best interest in mind provides a comforting thought. However, many have hardened their heart and full of ego, which makes love and grace flowing from God shut off. According to His plan, God is fully and faithfully in charge, not us, and will make good from every evil. No one is lost in God's ocean of mercy, provided they want His forgiveness. We can only lose our way by our own free-will choice. I leave you thinking about what gifts you will bring the Christ as you search and seek for Him on your pilgrimage of life. Peace.

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