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Homily for the Epiphany: the natural desire for God.

Every human being has a natural desire for God. Many don’t believe in God but that doesn’t mean God is not there, caring even for those who don’t believe in Him. We can either heed our natural desire for God and search for Him, or we can frustrate it, by rejecting Him or by indifference towards Him.


The Magi looked for the signs of God in the sky. They were not part of the Jewish people. But the desire for God is not the monopoly of any religion. It’s God’s own monopoly and He can stir that desire as, when and how he pleases. What we now know is that it pleased God to direct all desire for Himself towards the person of His Son, born of Mary. The desire for God now has a focus with a face and a name: Jesus of Nazareth. The Magi teach us how to search for this Jesus.


Firstly, their hearts had always been open to the discovery of God. They were attentive to the stirrings for God within themselves and others. So, we, too, must be open-hearted and attentive to God’s presence within and around us. They then actively sought him out by whatever means “wise men” of the time employed. So, we, too, must not sit back in sloth, but actively seek the Lord with all the means available to us. And we have many: from the beauty of Creation to the movements of the heart; from the Scriptures to the Sacraments, from prayer to spiritual reading, and so much more.


When the Magi perceive the star, the sign of his presence, they put themselves out in pursuit; they undertake the journey required with all its inconvenience and risk. So, we, too, should pursue particular insights or inspirations of God in our lives and in our times, even at our own inconvenience and risk. But the Magi realise that they are in need of help to find the God they seek and so consult others for more detail. So, we too, should take advantage of whatever help others can offer us to make our search more focussed.


Once they understand that the goal of their search is within reach, the sight of the star makes the Magi rejoice exceedingly with great joy. So, for us, whenever we experience our joy increase as we search, we can be sure that God is near, since where God is, there is always love and therefore joy. And then, at last, when they find this infant King and Christ, they fall to their knees and adore Him, opening up their treasures, especially those contained in their own hearts. So, for us, too, every time we discover the Lord anew, our first reaction cannot but be to adore him on our knees and to pour out our hearts before Him in praise and thanksgiving.


So, while God comes to us in Jesus, we must come to Jesus as the Magi did. The cradle Catholic can often be in the position of having being given Jesus, in Holy Communion for example, but of never having really searched for Him personally. And yet, if I don’t discover Him personally, Jesus may be present to me without my really being present to Him.


In the Eucharist, the Risen Christ is present with us, really and substantially, body, blood, soul and divinity. There are many Magi of today who have undergone long journeys to find Christ in the Eucharist and don’t understand how lifelong Catholics don’t always seem to appreciate the immensity of this gift. Worthy reception of the Eucharist is of course the most important form of Eucharistic faith and devotion. Yet, as countless martyrs and saints have shown us, and as countless teachers of the faith have taught us, and as the example of numerous parishioners across the decades have witnessed, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is among the most powerful ways to deepen our relationship with Christ and to experience the exceeding joy of the Magi. Adoration prolongs the experience of Communion and prepares the heart to receive it with ever greater profit.


I invite everyone to ask the Holy Spirit to stir deeply within you once more the Magi’s desire to search for Jesus and to come and adore Him in the Holy Eucharist. Adoration of the Lord is a statement of freedom from the temptation to adore other things, including our own ideas and outlooks. Adoration revives the capacity of the heart to love humbly both God and neighbour. It stills the frequent turmoil we experience within as the result of life’s travails and sin. As someone else said recently, when the human being is on his knees before God, then he is truly great. To adore God is our eternal destiny.


We are blessed in this parish to have perpetual adoration in the Benedictine Monastery. As you know, I am trying to offer more possibilities for adoration in our church here as part of our Eucharistic revival under the auspices of Blessed Carlo Acutis. But the church is open during the day, every day, and even if the Sacrament is not exposed, adoration is still possible for whoever truly wants it.


In some ways, the Eucharist is now our Star, not of Bethlehem, but of the Rising Sun of Easter. Let us rejoice exceedingly and frequently to come and do Him homage.