Matthew 2: 1-12
Almost every year on this feast there is a song that often comes to mind from back in 1987, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2. They themselves claim it to be a spiritual song, looking out over their own lives and the often wasteland and emptiness of people looking for happiness and love in all the wrong places and so they are left searching and seeking out that love and acceptance from place to place, wandering.
It’s somewhat appropriate because these Magi people we encounter in Matthew’s Gospel today are looking for something in their lives and are left somewhat on a scavenger hunt to find it by following a star that has arisen. They most likely had traveled a great distance and a great amount of time in actuality, but the story is much more than about actual events as it is these archetypal images that are presented to us of seekers of greater depth and meaning, seekers of love and happiness and they believe it has come into the world through the birth of this new king. The challenge is finding the gift.
The natural response of anyone in seeking out a new king would be to go to the seat of power. Go to Jerusalem and seek out the sitting king, King Herod, to find answers to the star that arose. It would be no different than us going to Washington, DC, the seat of power, and probably finding much of the same, emptiness and people clamoring for perceived power rather than the real deal. But they are still searching as well, like us, often in the wrong place. The Magi come to find out quickly, though, that they haven’t found what they were looking for there. All they find with Herod is that emptiness, insecurity, and great fear and anxiety, they find a dark king rather than the king, which leaves Herod even more anxious and the seekers wondering where to turn next. But he too is seeking in his own life and like him, at times we become consumed by the darkness of the travels. The Magi have traveled to the seat of power and yet have found none, have not found what they were looking for and so the journey must continue, but now with this burden of Herod’s response lingering, seeking the death of this child who is perceived to take away his power; to take away what he wants and yet leaves him empty. They seeking life while Herod seeking death.
And so they go. They go where they would least likely go to find what they are looking for, they find themselves at the house of Mary and Joseph and the newborn child bearing gifts. Yet, in the midst of all this searching and seeking, they come to find out that what they had looked for they already had; but like so many of us, become distracted by the lures of power and happiness of the outside world rather than journey within. For these seekers it became a journey out only to find who they were within and to find the true treasure, the Christ, already within them. They leave their gifts, never to be seen or heard from again, but we can only assume that the encounter with the Christ took them to the ends of the earth proclaiming the good news. Or maybe that’s the point of the story, when we find what we’re looking for, nothing else really matters, not even ourselves, as the disciples will come to find in their own call.
We don’t need to travel very far to find what we are looking for, although we often choose to, and that’s ok. It will often take us to places we’d rather not go. Each of us chooses a different journey; but these archetypal images of the Magi assure us that the only way we are going to find what we are looking for out there in the world, is to first find it within ourselves. There story is just as much our story. The gift, the power, the love, is already here. The Christ is already within. Sometimes we just need to stop looking and allow ourselves to simply be in the presence of the Lord and not only will we find what we are looking for, but ultimately we will be found by the one looking for us. Come…let us adore him.