Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
(Acts ix. 4)
Church Tradition teaches that the Epistles of St. Paul were written long before the Gospels were put together or the Acts of the Apostles was compiled. The word Gospel comes to us from the older word Godspel, a combination of the Old German Gott – God, and Middle English spellen - meaning to explicate, spell-out, unravel, or describe. It is also a translation of the Greek åϖáíãåëéïí -evangel, which means Good News. So the Gospels and their extension in St. Luke’s Acts record God’s Speech or Good news to us in the life of Jesus Christ. Yet we learn today that this Good News confronted one man in the very form of God’s Speech, seizing him in such a uniquely dramatic way that he went on to teach and write about its heavenly meaning long before the Gospel writers collected all the details of its earthly manifestation in Christ.
But before we get to that, we need to remember the historical details of the life of St. Paul. By his own admission, he had played no small role in the attempt to stamp out Christianity. He was born as Saul around 5 A.D., as a Jewish citizen of the Roman Empire in the city of Tarsus, on the Mediterranean Sea in what is now Turkey. In Acts he tells us that at a young age he was trained in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God. (Acts xxii. 3) He probably spent enough time in his hometown, a center of Hellenistic learning, to understand the teachings of the Greek philosophical schools prevalent in the Empire and at odds with his own faith. By his own admission, he was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Phil. iii. 5,6) So Saul was moved zealously by strict adherence to the historical Law of the Jews, and he was equally convinced that he was observing it perfectly. He called himself blameless. And if the Law was the surest way to imitate the life of God, then he was certain that he had found it.
This Law had killed Jesus of Nazareth, and Saul thought that it instructed him to round up, torture, and kill Jesus’ followers. Jesus had prophesied of the Sauls of this world: They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (St. John xvi. 2) So bound was he to this Law that he could not even hear the counsel of his old mentor Gamaliel, when he cautioned the Sanhedrin against slaying Peter and John for spreading the Gospel of the recently Ascended Christ. Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. (Ibid, v. 38, 39) Needless to say, this wisdom fell on Saul’s deaf ears.
Saul did not yet realize that The Law is made for man, and not man for the Law. (St. Mark ii. 27) Nor did he then comprehend what he would later tirelessly teach – that if there had been a law given which could have given [new] life, verily righteousness should have come from the law. (Gal. iii. 21) So bedeviled and crazed with his own sense of goodness, he pursued an imagined evil. Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the Disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this Way, whether… men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. (Ibid, ix. 1, 2) The Sanhedrin had said to Pilate, We have a law, and by our law [Jesus] ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. (St. John xix 7) Saul believed that in order to discourage the movement, the followers should die also. The Jewish Law had become to him a false god that justified the death of those who looked not to the Law, but to Christ as the source of righteousness.
What he had to learn the hard way was that Jesus Christ was alive and well in Heaven and still entering in and out of the hearts and souls of his friends, the new members of His Mystical Body. Saul would have to come to the knowledge that in persecuting and killing Christians, he was attempting to crucify the Son of God afresh to his own harm, and holding Him up to contempt. (Hebrews vi. 6) Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (St. Matthew xxv. 40)
So we read that as Paul journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And Saul said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts ix. 3-5) To kick against the pricks or goads is an ancient proverb used to describe what happens when an unbroken oxen resists the spiked goad the farmer uses to tame and steer it. He is stabbed. So is Saul. For in his murderous pursuit of Christians, the pain will turn back on him as the sharp nails of Christ’s Crucifixion begin to prick him with consciousness of the Divine Love. The Law he observes is now leading him to his own certain death.
And so in the blinding Light of the Ascended Christ, Saul sees himself as a spiritual murderer whose own soul is dead. In the Light he comes to realize that he has been trying to kill not the earthly mourners of a dead hero, but, as Monsignor Knox suggests, the God who has become Man and desires to infect the human race with His Divinity. (R. Knox: St Paul’s Gospel, Ign. 562) What he was determined to preclude was that the Word should be made flesh at all! How could it be God’s will and Word that men should through the law be dead to the Law that they might live to God? (Gal. ii. 19)
Saul had forgotten that the Law was given by God to man in order to teach him of his sin and the need of a Saving Mercy. Thus afflicted with such a serious loss of spiritual vision, nothing short of a dramatic cure could reverse the course of his terminal disease. The man whose eyes strained to detect the tiniest violation of Mosaic Law in the external world was blinded by the superior Light of God’s love. Falling to the earth, his own flesh was silenced by the Word that he heard. Benedict XVI tells us that The dazzling radiance of the Risen Christ blinds him; thus what was his inner reality is also outwardly apparent, his blindness to the truth, to the light that is Christ. (“St. Paul’s Conversion”: Sept.3, 2008) For Saul to be inwardly illuminated, to see himself in relation to God for the very first time, his earthly sight must be suspended and his earthly resolutions destroyed so that his spiritual vision might be discovered.
Saul’s companions saw the light but did not hear [or understand] the voice of the one who was speaking to [him]. The voice spoke to Saul’s soul alone and personally, in order to reveal his sin against God’s Word and Will in Jesus Christ. Saul was blinded for three days. A certain Ananias receives a commandment from the Lord to find Saul of Tarsus and to lay hands upon him that he may receive his sight. Ananias is so close to God that he is able to voice his doubts about Saul. Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (Ibid, 13) Ananias must believe and trust the Jesus Christ will make Saul [His] chosen vessel to bear [His} name to the Gentiles… [and] that… he will suffer great things for His name’s sake. (Ibid, 15, 16) So St. Paul tells us in a later account, Ananias, a devout man according to the law… came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Ibid, xxii. 12-16) Saul became Paul and would forever thereafter discover the will of God in Jesus Christ, see and understand the meaning of Christ’s Incarnation, and hear Him clearly as God’s Word and Speech governing himself and all others who would be saved.
In this morning’s Gospel, Peter, thinking that he and his fellow Apostles have already done what they needed to do, asks, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (St. Matthew xix. 27) Jesus emphasizes that twelve faithful Apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Ibid, 28) But he emphasizes the extent of the sacrifice that they must make when he adds that every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Ibid, 29) This is the death of the self that finds its center of spiritual meaning in the Cross which alone leads to new life.
For St. Paul the Good News is God’s Word and Will expressed first to him by the Ascended Christ whose Light blinds him. If you and I hope to be saved, we must seek Christ’s Light that goads us into our own crucifixion to the world, the flesh, the devil, and ourselves. In this Light alone St. Paul saw Christ in everyone, Christ in everything, nothing but Christ. (Knox, 563) In this Light alone, he saw his true nature and destiny. Thus he writes, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. ii. 20) Amen.
They have no wine…(St. John ii. 3)
Epiphany means manifestation or shining forth. And the Epiphany season has been set apart in the Church as a time for Christians to consider the meaning and will of God the Father as revealed in the human life of Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son. In this season we contemplate the Divinity of Christ ministering to us through His humanity as we encounter it on the pages of Holy Scripture. On this Second Sunday in Epiphany, in particular we find God’s power over nature revealed through Jesus. But we find this power only after He has revealed to us the priority of Divine Wisdom in the face of the limitations of human reason. For while God comes into the world to save us, He also takes our nature upon Himself, so that He can reacquaint and realign our hearts with the rule and governance of God’s will in human life. Jesus will teach us that the same God whose Wisdom rules and governs all of creation, desires to claim our allegiance also. He will begin to reveal this truth to us through the exchange He has with His Mother in today’s Gospel.
When we think of wisdom, we think of human wisdom or what used to be called prudence. In the Gospels no better example of that prudence exists than in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin was, you will remember, astounded and bewildered when the Angel Gabriel visited her prior to the conception of the Word in her womb. How can this be, she asked prudently? Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce through her own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed. (St. Luke ii. 35) In relation to Her Son, like all good mothers, she was often confused, worried, and saddened. Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (St. Luke ii. 48) Through worldly wisdom she tried to understand the meaning of her Son's behavior. Wist ye not, He responded, that I must be about my Father’s business? (St. Luke ii. 49) And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them. (Ibid, 50) Humility and prudence commanded her to keep quiet. His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. (Ibid, 51)
To be fair to the Blessed Virgin, human wisdom derives instinctively from human experience. It is the perfected ability to make the right decisions. (The Four Cardinal Virtues: Pieper, p. 6)Yet human wisdom can also be elevated into onto a higher plane when God adjusts human habits and customs to an Heavenly end. We find this in this morning’s Gospel, where we read that On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there with both Jesus and His disciples. (St. John ii, 1) At the outset we should be happy to learn that Jesus blesses the institution of Holy Matrimony with His presence. There are human customs that Christ will bless and there are those He will not. The Holy Union of man and woman is Divinely ordained, and thus Christ will take the wisdom in it and reconcile it to the Divine Wisdom.
Cana means zeal, and Galilee means passage. On this third day, then, Jesus will embrace the zeal and passion of Holy Matrimony and transform this rite of passage onto a way that points to the Father’s Kingdom. Thomas Aquinas tells us that, this marriage was celebrated in the zeal of a passage, to suggest that those persons are most worthy of union with Christ who, burning with the zeal of a conscientious devotion, pass over from the state of guilt to the grace of the Church. (STA, Comm. on St. John) The invited guests are celebrating passion that moves into passage, as the man and woman accept the high calling of God, who said that, The two shall be one flesh. (Gen. ii. 24) Marriage is essential to God’s plan for His people. And Jesus Christ, God’s Word and Plan for His people made flesh cannot help but rejoice in this Divinely ordained celebration.
But being the good Jewish mother that she is, the Blessed Virgin becomes aware of a human need that she believes only her Son can meet with His Divine potential. So she tugs at his toga, and exclaims, They have no wine. (St. John ii. 3) But at her urging, Jesus seems only irritated: Woman what have I to do with thee? (St. John ii, 4) A better translation would be Woman what does your concern have to do with me? (Orthodox Study Bible transl.) Another way of putting it would be, And…what do you expect me to do about it? To which He adds: mine hour is not yet come. (Ibid, 4) Jesus must be about [His] Father’s, and not His mother’s business. (St. Luke ii, 49). He means no disrespect to His earthly mother, but she does not grasp the true meaning of the Wisdom He has come to bring to mankind. Her motherly wisdom and concern arise from a fear that the perfect wedding is about to come to an abrupt halt. Like most mothers, she, no doubt, has an eye for earthly perfection.
But Jesus’ Wisdom is not of this world. His concern is for a kind of wine that will overflow perfectly at a kind of wedding she cannot yet imagine. What does your concern have to do with me? You do not yet know me, He implies. For mine hour is not yet come. (Ibid, 4) Have you forgotten what kind of marriage you have with my Heavenly Father’s Spirit that brought about my Birth? Mary is silenced and probably ashamed at the rebuke of the Wisdom of God in her Son. Acquiescing to His Wisdom, she instructs the hired servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. (Ibid, 5) Whatever or whoever her Son is, He is to be heeded. She is lifted above earthly urgency and is confronted by Heavenly power and desire. She remembers that her Son Jesus should be called the Son of the Highest…and of his kingdom there should be no end. (St. Luke i. 32-33) In order for human wisdom to be reconciled to its Heavenly source, it must obey and trust Jesus.
Godly wisdom is higher than worldly wisdom or prudence. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. (St. Matthew vi. 33) Of course we know what then happens. There were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (St. John ii, 6,7) The water pots that Jesus will use are not wine bottles but containers meant to hold water for ritual cleansing and purification. Add to the water of purification, Jesus says.
So the holy water becomes a basis for a miracle that shows forth a number of things. First we see that Jesus' ministry has begun. Next we learn that the Wisdom that Jesus reveals is not a worldly wisdom. We realize also that the worldly wisdom or prudence of His mother must subject itself to priority of the Divine purpose in Jesus. Jesus takes the old water of purification and fortifies, strengthens, and spiritualizes it. The wine that the wedding guests will drink is the wine of spiritual purification and transformation. This is the meaning of that St. Thomas’ words, when he writes that Grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it.
The hired hands obey first Mary and then Jesus and bear the wine to the governor of the feast. (Ibid, 8) When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (St. Luke ii, 9,10) Jesus had performed a miracle. But see how the governor is ignorant of what has been done because the world has not yet heard the Gospel. Earthly prudence and human tradition dictate that the best wine should be served first, while the tongue is fresh and the senses are clear. [He does have a stash of higher quality port; but that he reserves for his gentlemen buddies, who would retire with him, when the festivities had ended, to the smoking room to sip it with cigars.] So the governor marveled, and was wholly surprised. Why pour out such good wine, he must have wondered, so late in the day, to the kind of people (your wife’s relatives) you have to see only, thank God, once in a blue moon only at weddings of funerals?
This morning through the example and witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary we learn that we must surrender our earthly prudence to Divine Wisdom. Too often we, with her, are concerned with earthly wine and the human happiness it symbolizes. Earnest Christians are not only overly possessed with earthly happiness and joy, but demand first and foremost the absence of any human suffering and disruption to their earthly comfort and complacency. And yet Christ comes to tell us today that with zeal we must seek to enter onto that mystical rite of passage that hungers and thirsts for the wine of spiritual purification. So as we follow Him, we must be purified by His Grace and illuminated by His Wisdom. Watsoever He saith unto you, do it, says the Blessed Virgin to us today. (Ibid, 5) If ye love me, keep my commandments (St. John xiv. 15) says Jesus. She knows that we must learn from her Son. He desires that we should heed and obey the Heavenly Wisdom that enables us to follow Him to His Father’s kingdom.
Will he make our water into wine? Yes. Will he take the waters by which we desire to be purified and make them into a more potent spiritual drink that alone can save us? Yes. Jean Calvin reminds us that when the Blessed Virgin says, ‘Whatsoever He saith, do it’, we are taught….that if we desire any thing from Christ, we will not obtain our wishes, unless we depend on Him alone, look to him, and, in short, do whatever he commands. What we should desire first is our salvation and then the sanctification that ensures it. So with the Blessed Virgin let us blush with embarrassment at forgetting the love of our Lord which alone can bring us true joy. And with Richard Crashaw let us remember that:
When Christ at Cana’s feast by power Divine,
Inspired cold water with the warmth of wine,
“See” cried they, while in reddening tide it gushed,
“The bashful stream hath seen its God, and blushed!”
How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must
be about my Father’s business?
St. Luke ii. 49)
Today we begin the mystical season of Epiphany. Epiphany comes from the Greek word επιθανεια, meaning manifestation, shining forth, or striking appearance. In the Greek churches the Feast of the Epiphany is also known as Theophany, which means Vision of God. Both titles point us to the luminary and enlightening qualities of the season, as our souls lovingly pursue the manifestation of God the Father's will in the life of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. In this season we are called to wonderment, discovery, and amazement at the Divine Light which will reveal the life, wisdom, and love of God in His Son.
So today we turn to the supernatural revelation or manifestation of God’s life in the birth of Jesus Christ. The paradigm that affords its discovery is found in the spiritual journey made by the Wise Men who came from the East, chronicled by St. Matthew in his Gospel. Their spiritual search began with a scientific study of nature. The Magi, or Wise Men, were astronomers who studied the movements of the planets and stars to discern and glean those permanent principles that define created existence. Following what we might call the God-given natural light, they discovered the truths and laws of nature. But in the midst of their celestial contemplations their vision was distracted, their reason disturbed, and their hearts pierced by the beams of a brighter Light shining from a greater star, the likes of which they had never seen before. To be sure it was a star, but its presence and power captivated them so inwardly and spiritually that they were drawn externally and visibly to follow it. In fact, by the time we learn of them in St. Matthew’s Gospel, we see that it had moved them to travel… from the East… to Jerusalem. (St. Matthew ii. 1) Moved above and beyond their stationary study of the laws of matter, motion, and gravity, these Wise Men were moved to find God’s spiritual reformation of all earthly existence in the birth of the promised King of the Jews.
Following this Divine Light, their search swept through Jerusalem and into the throne-room of King Herod the Great. Where is he that is born King of the Jews? they enquire. For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. (Ibid, 2) As Bishop Andrewes reminds us, they do not ask the King whether the King of the Jews was born. They do not query when He was born, how He was born, nor do they even ask who He was. By the time they reached Jerusalem, the star had already made them into believers. They want to know Where He is? For born He is, they are sure…. His star is up. It is risen. Therefore He is risen too. (L.S.: Sermon, Dec. 25, 1620)
And yet this Light which they followed did not lead them directly to the birthplace of the King of the Jews. Revelation demands a real effort from those who would rightly interpret it. (The Christian Year in the Times, p. 34) The journey made by the Wise Men was no easy task. They had traveled from afar and as aliens into foreign territory. These were Gentiles who came from Persia or beyond into Roman-occupied Palestine, the children of those who in olden times had held all Israel captive, and now were so captivated by the newborn King of the Jews that they sought to worship Him! Thus the Wise Men might have feared that Herod and the Jews would take opportunity to settle an old historical score. So too, they came as barbarians from beyond the borders of Octavian Caesar’s civilized Empire, and so had no assurance of Roman protection. Yet more than these threats from without, there were threats from within on the ground of their souls. They were walking by faith with no absolute knowledge of the where, when, why, or how of their unusual spiritual odyssey. Their faith would be tried and imperiled by doubts and uncertainty. And what of the natural exhaustion bound to impede the progress of such a long journey? Truly, these Wise Men must have been possessed of a courageous faith that enabled them to persevere and persist in their search for this new King. And so, as Bishop Andrewes has written: They were neither afraid of Herod, nor ashamed of Christ; but professed their errand, and cared not who knew it. (Idem) So they confessed and denied not, believed and proclaimed that the promised King of the Jews had been born and that, come what may, they were determined to find Him. For, as the Bishop suggests, they were so desirous to… be there as soon… as they possibly might… that they broke through all these difficulties. (Ibid)
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebr. xi. 1) The supernatural Light in the sky not only generated their faith but inspired them to seek out and find the reward of their belief. The Wise Men’s astronomical learning led them beyond nature to find a supernatural truth. But in order to discover where the King of the Jews is, the Light that guided them needed to grow stronger and clearer through Jewish prophecy. Abraham was promised an heir in whom all the families of the earth [would] be blessed. (Gen. xii. 3). Isaiah had foretold that nations that knew not [Israel would] run unto [her] because of the Lord… [and to find] the Holy One of Israel. (Is. lv. 5) But when the Wise Men asked, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? they must have been astounded to learn that Herod and the Jews had not been watching and waiting for this coming King. That the Gentile scientists’ faith should reveal this birth to God’s own people seems extraordinary. And yet just as the star was no mere star, so these new believers were no commonplace believers. The supernatural Light was revealed to unexpected people, in an unexpected place, and took them on an unexpected journey to find an unexpected King in unexpected surroundings. None of this should surprise us. The supernatural Light gave birth to faith that moved an alien people out of an alien place to a King who would be treated as alien, who was hidden and concealed to His own people. For, He came unto His own, but His own received Him not. (St. John i. 11) When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Ibid, 3)
The chief priests and scribes had reminded Herod of Micah’s prophecy that Christ should be born in Bethlehem of Judah. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also. (Ibid, 7-9) Herod had no intention of worshiping a king who came from a world in which he did not believe. He enquired diligently about the timing of the star’s appearing so that he could kill off any potential usurpers of his earthly throne. But over and against the sinful incredulity of a selfish King, the faith of the alien Gentile Wise Men was growing with new knowledge of past Jewish prophesy. It turned out that the unusual and extraordinary star had brought them to an unusual and extraordinary king who was born in an unusual and extraordinary place, generating in them an unusual and extraordinary faith. So, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Ibid, 9-12)
In the end their faith is rewarded because they have searched diligently for the child. (Idem) They have found Christ, the King of the Jews, and so they fall down and worship Him. They have been moved to bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They have found this spiritual king, and so they must surrender their earthly treasure, gold. (Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. (St. Matthew vi. 24) To bear the earthly presence of this Heavenly Visitor, the air must be purified of the profane and perverse with frankincense. (Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of Him that cried, and the house was filled with incense. (Is. vi. 3,4) Finally, the King whom they come to worship is the One who is born to die, and so they bring myrrh, a burial ointment. (He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Is. liii. 3-6)
The supernatural Light has led the Wise Men to the source of that Wisdom which alone can redeem and save humanity. If we, like they would find this Wisdom in the King of the Jews, we must follow His star in faith. Then we shall find that God’s own Word is made flesh only in the humblest, most inconspicuous and unlikely of places – the manger or cave beyond the earthly comfort of the King’s palace or even a local Inn. We shall find Him, as in today’s Gospel, not first and foremost with his natural mother and stepfather, but in the Temple and about His father’s business. (Idem) In this King we shall find that life which alone leads to salvation, where Divine truth rules and governs the human heart, and from there shines forth as a star of hope to the tired and perplexed in this sin-weary world. Then with all Wise Men, we shall sing with Robert Bridges the song of the star that leads all men to the place where God and man meet in one heart:
Mortal though I be, yea ephemeral, if but a moment
I gaze up to the night’s starry domain of heaven,
Then no longer on earth I stand; I touch the Creator,
And my lively spirit drinketh immortality.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons: