Wise Guy (Epiphany of the Lord)

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! (Matthew 2: 9 – 10)

A guy I knew had drifted away from his faith. He had gone to a Catholic school and had even been an altar boy. But when he became a teenager, religion seemed too limiting: “It cramps my style,” he said. Later, he was busy building his career and getting his life set up. He didn’t have time for all the superstition and hypocrisy that seemed so intertwined with the religious practice he knew growing up.

Life went well for him for quite a while. His days and nights were filled with creating businesses and selling them off and starting relationships and then just as quickly ending them. He was flying high. Then he seemed to crash. It wasn’t any one thing in his outward life; he simply felt empty inside.

One Christmas he made a rare visit to his family. At Midnight Mass at his boyhood parish, the lights and the music and the rituals reawakened something deep within him. After Mass, he sat alone in the pew as the church grew quiet and dark. In the dim light of the star above the manger, he saw the statues of the Magi who had travelled so far to bring their gifts to Jesus. He thought of how lost he’d become in his life and how he’d squandered so much of what he’d been given. He sighed a deep prayer and like the Magi, went home changed by what he’d finally seen.

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