Magi and Mission

main image

Raymond Brown was a Roman Catholic priest and a great Biblical exegete in the 20th century. I commend his little book ‘An Adult Christ for Christmas,’ from which I am cribbing the idea for this blog.

Shaman, indigenous healer, astrologer, mystic, philosopher: any or all might translate who the ‘wise men’ were. Brown’s insight is this: their insight could bring a person to the general area where truth, light, and sanctity are found. But Brown goes on to point out that only the reference to the Scriptures of Israel can take the searcher to the very spot where the Christ-child lay.

Brown finds in this contrast a deep truth of Christian theology. By the ‘natural knowledge of God’ it means what we humans can understand of God by reason. Such knowledge however is broken, partial, and unclear- it gets us into the vicinity, but not there.

All of this leads then to the Feast of Epiphany as the celebration of the Christian mission. Now the nations are summoned to the light. And this involves the seeking heart, drawn to God, distorting Him, resisting Him, be as they made in His image and idolaters. The Epiphany would play itself out again and again over two millennia.

Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.