Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
I really like this portrayal of the Magi given to us by the artist, He Qi. These three kings look to be resting so peacefully. During this time of angel visits and instructions through dreams, there is a sense of awakening but no fear. Ideas are planted and their deep trust in the signs and wonders of their own faith tradition encourage them to pack for adventure and follow the prophetic star.
It is Epiphany – a time when we hear stories of innocence and evil. A child free from guilt is born and ‘angels in their joy dance across the sky with song’. Good news is sent to shepherds and visions to kings far to the East. The earth is electric with hope and celebration.
But as always the story is balanced with other reactions. The ruling Roman king, Herod, does not find this birth good news but a threat. He would turn the joyful moments into horror killing small boys as an act of ultimate insecurity.
Something about this story feels painfully familiar. Our world today is filled with examples of horrible actions taken due to insecurity and greed. So how do we recognize the news from angels in our dreams and live in hope?
Isaiah’s prophetic wisdom reminds us that through darkness light shines. We hear his cry, ‘Arise, shine for your light has come.’ This is a call to action. We must carry that light like a candle needing shelter in the wind. For it is still a young flame and it’s earthly protectors are still forming family.
When the kings and shepherds have returned to their homes, we are still here, present as this young family begins a risky journey to Egypt so to hide in safety until they can return to their own land and make home.
It is Epiphany. A time of enlightenment and honor. Like those wise ones from the East, may we pay attention to our surroundings and nurture our own faith-in-practice.
(Grateful thanks is given for the inspiration shared by John Foley S. J.)