Epiphany of the Lord
One night the king was roused from sleep by fearful stumping on the roof above his bed. Alarmed, he shouted, “Who’s there?” “A friend,” came the reply from the roof. “I’ve lost my camel.”
Perturbed by such stupidity, the king screamed, “You fool! Are you looking for a camel on the roof?” “You fool!” the voice from the roof answered. “Are you looking for God in silk clothing, and lying on a golden bed?”
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Today’s gospel passage talks about the search of the Magi: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
With Epiphany comes the question: “Where does one look for God?” Where are you looking for God? I think the more basic question which needs to be asked is: What are we really searching for? What is it that we are seeking? Are we not searching for an alternative-God?
Timothy Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, exposes the idols that people worship – or using the language of today’s gospel, “have come to do them homage.” People, consciously or unconsciously, are seeking or searching for things other than God. Our hearts deify them (make them gods) as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and meaning, safety and security, happiness and satisfaction, fulfillment and completeness, if we attain them.
By the way, what is an idol? Idol is anything more important to you than God… anything that absorbs your heart and preoccupies your mind instead of God… anything that you seek to give you what only God can give. According to Keller, a “counterfeit god” is anything so central and essential to your life, that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought, without any regard to its consequence.
The idol we are referring to can be material wealth and possessions, success and prosperity, power and influence, fame and vainglory, comfortable circumstances, luxuries and conveniences, sexual pleasures. It can be peer approval, academic honors, being the number one, career and making money, achievement and critical acclaim, physical beauty and attractiveness, or social standing and popularity. It can even be family and children, a great political or social cause, even success in the Christian ministry. Keller says, “When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘co-dependency’ but it is really idolatry.” “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning… then I’ll know I have value and importance… then I’ll feel significant and secure.’”
There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship. We worship anything we seek to give us what only God can give: significance and meaning, safety and security, happiness and satisfaction, fulfillment and completeness. We know very well that it is only God who can fulfill our greatest needs; it is only God who can satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts. St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are made for God, and they will not rest, until they rest in God.”
Let us go back to our question: Where are you looking for God? If we are to advance in our spiritual journey and search, we must pay attention to the signs of God’s presence in our life, we must open our spiritual eyes to see God in everything. May today’s celebration of the Lord’s Epiphany inspire us as we seek Jesus and open ourselves to receive his grace. May it lead us to the King to whom we will devote our lives and everything in us – to know, to love and to serve him.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone can give me what I really need: salvation. Make me realize that in my heart there is a God-shaped hole that only God can fill; and my heart will not rest, until it rests in God. Lord Jesus, by your grace you save me… By Your grace You give meaning to my life… You give me a sense of fulfillment… You complete my incompleteness… You bring me happiness and joy… You can give me the fullness of life. Amen.