They Prostrated Themselves Together

Upon entering the house, three friends put down their gifts, prostrated themselves and gave homage to the One they had been seeking. They had finally accomplished the goal of their travels. They made it together.

In the peaceful quiet of the Saint Louis Chapel, I genuflected in front of the tabernacle, noticed the Wise Men to the side and went to sit before them on the floor. Whoever decorated had set the statues to seem as though they would advance to the Holy Family and the star suspended from the ceiling on the opposite end of the space. I looked intently at the Wise Men and thought of their journey.

We celebrated Epiphany about two weeks after Christmas. But a caravan of Magi travelling on foot or by camel from the East might not have arrived in just two weeks. The star appeared at Christmas, heralding the birth of a king. And then Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Herod, upon hearing about the timing of the star, slaughtered every boy in Bethlehem aged two and under. The Magi could have journeyed together for as much as two years.

Two years is a long time to travel. They would be very far from home. And if they travelled by the star, their journey might have been by night. What was it like to travel like that? Did they start out feeling confident and on other nights grow weary? Did they ever fear about going to a country they had never seen?

The life of faith is also a journey into places you didn’t know you would go. At times you feel very sure the star is leading correctly, and other times, all you feel is the oppressive dark of night. Sometimes the skies are bright with the radiance of the moon. And at other times, clouds obscure every signal.

I looked at the three Wise Men and thanked the Lord He sent them together as companions. Maybe if one started to doubt, the others could offer encouragement. If they started to feel lost, they could consult one another. If they felt tired, they had each other to lean on. Two years later, they must have become very good friends.

The Lord made Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).” This is true for many kinds of relationships. I have appreciated more and more the treasure of having spiritual friends who travel with me in the moonlit brilliance and in the cloudy darkness. I am grateful that when one of us starts to doubt, someone can remind us that we saw a star and were called to follow. I am glad that when one of us gets tired, there is another to lean on.

The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are very meaningful gifts. In my house, my kids got another set of presents in honor of those gifts. 

But this Epiphany, I prayed for us to have the gift of friendship - companionship for the journey of seeking Jesus. Through ministries like ACTS retreats and faith groups, it is a real treasure to find others who see the star and want to follow it with you. They are a gift for when you thought you’d arrive in two weeks, but it’s really going to take two years. They are a gift when the sky turns cloudy and the direction is unclear. And they are a gift to prostrate themselves with you when you finally find Him.