January 6 is the date of the celebration of Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas. In the USA its celebration has been moved to the nearest Sunday, but for many, January 6 is still the real day. ((And among the Orthodox, January 6 is Christmas…)
The word epiphany is often used to refer to a sudden awakening or awareness – the flash on insight that brings about a change of heart that changes all else.
If we ponder the story of the Magi, the word “sudden” has to disappear from our description. For years, even decades, they had studied the stars in such detail that they knew them and knew their patterns of motion and – in their mindset – what message the stars carried. Then, when they perceived a new or different star, they were able to discern its meaning. And they had enough faith to follow it.
The journey to Jerusalem then Bethlehem would take days – maybe weeks – of discomfort on the road and exposure to danger. It also provided time to consider whether – and what – claim this emerging reality would place on their lives.
The scriptures describe their arrival with gifts and adoration as a revelation, a new awareness of the universality of this Good News. The long process of pondering, encountering God, embracing the new reality – all is left to the imagination of the reader.
In this time of resolutions and images of suddenly having a renewed outlook, remember the Magi’s years of study and endurance. Rather than looking for the sudden change that comes from nowhere, lay the road bed for the journey that leads to that bright and mystical moment.