THEY CAME FROM AFAR
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thoms P. Bonacci, C.P.
I grew up with a Tradition celebrating the Twelve Nights of Christmas. The Twelfth Night was special as it marked the highpoint of the Christmas Season, the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of Epiphany is magical, mysterious, and delightful. So important is this Feast that it has a Season of its own for many Christians. In many churches, the date of Easter is formally proclaimed after the proclamation of the Gospel.
I went to Grandma’s house as a little boy, where she “hid” the Three Kings in plain sight. When the children discovered the kings, we carried them to the Manger, and the joy of Christmas lingered in the air. There is a peaceful quiet about this Feast of divine manifestation, light, and peace.
Of course, the Magi did not go to the Manger. The Manger is a detail in Luke’s Gospel. Matthew’s Gospel, where we find the story of the Magi, has the child born at home in Bethlehem in the house of Joseph. The two stories told by Matthew and Luke have been conflated over the centuries. It helps to separate the narratives probing their distinctive symbolism and significance
Matthew’s narrative tells the story of radical inclusion and unbounded hospitality. The strangers from afar do not become objects of suspicions but guests honored invited to see the newborn child. Children bring joy to the World. They are God’s blessing to a World that is often harsh and cruel. Matthew tells the story of the Magi in the context of Herod’s desire to maintain his power by killing the children he fears threaten his power. While danger looms in the background, the infant’s parents open the doors of their home and hearts to the strangers from afar. There is a great lesson here.
We must open our hearts to one another if peace is ever to be a reality. We must go out of our way to meet the stranger and seek to become friends. The Magi are of a different culture, religion, and nation. Yet, they are invited into the intimacy of the household of the new born child. This is a story of trust, openness, and courage. Would be enemies rejoice and gift one another as the star shines brightly.
May the star of our self-giving shine brightly as we enter into the uncertainty of a new year. Epiphany means manifestation. May we manifest our love and care for one another. Let us have the courage to cross the ocean to find a friend, to travel across the land to meet one another, to cross the street to care for each other.
As the light of the sun grows into longer and longer days of daylight, may the light of our souls shatter the darkness of fear, prejudice, and despair.
Blessings to you, Holy Community, for manifesting the light of love and peace in all the deeds and actions of your lives. Gratitude to you for opening the doors of your hearts to strangers and those who are hurting. May you be blessed by the light you shine on others.
As things begin to return to a new normal, we at The Interfaith Peace Project are here for you in any way that you need us. The Antioch Center is now open to fully vaccinated people on Wednesdays, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We are vigilant and will adjust to any and all recommendations from the state and county. We will continue our work through Zoom as we add in person programs. If you would like to schedule an in person or Zoom program or would like a phone appointment with any of us, give us a call. You may call or email Tom at: