Homily of 6th January 2019
IS 60-1-6; PS 72; EPH 3:2-3A,5-6; MT 2:1-12
The Magi were seekers from a far-off place, somewhere in former Persia now Iran. They were attentive to the signs of the times and sought out this new king to touch somehow the new reality that was to come from him. They appreciated this and showed their respect with gifts.
There are lots of seekers in today’s world. All people of faith are seeking God, seeking to know the heart of Christ in the midst of their life. Young people who don’t feel called to participate in institutional religion, older folks disillusioned by its failures, so many folks see their experience of life so out of sync with what the traditional churches teach about life.
Seekers are searching for truth, searching for a way to connect with the Divine in community. These are from all faith traditions and walks of life. We who are of the Mepkin community are seekers too, seeking God, seeking a deeper life with Jesus and seeking to be witnesses to truth. To who God is for all people, a God of love, of compassion. We seek to live this contemplative life for the world.
What then is required of the Church, so we can to be the ones providing opportunity for all those who are seeking – what must we do, because we know we have the truth, we have Jesus. We have our experience of God, it is this very real, very powerful relationship that has invited us into deeper and deeper faith. How do we proclaim our experience, open up our understanding of God, of truth in a way that invites others into it? Wasn’t that what the Magi were seeking to do?
Isaiah proclaims to Israel what could be, if they would be faithful to the God who invites them into covenant life. But they were so unfaithful in their life with God, they lost their way.
The truth of God in Christ is for all people. Paul in Ephesians is naming that the whole of humanity can find a way – he calls all people co-partners in the promise. But we have always had the idea that everyone must be in the same mold to find the truth in Christ. We now know that each person must come to know their own truth of God within them. Can we accept that and invite all seekers to unite in some way and then to touch the mystery of God together. There’s the challenge of our age, of all people of faith, to share faith, to touch the God within.
Of course, we don’t have all the answers to that challenge, but that is the question now. We must begin to discover the possibilities, if we want a future where people can share faith in God in community. So that faith-based values dominate our lives and our world again. Then, intentional communities of seekers, whoever they are, can live in all forms of commitments, perhaps forming what some call “the new monasticism,” which is seen as Inter-Spiritual, that is living from the contemplative path of life, that is from their experience of God. These communities living the contemplative approach to life can provide and promote the very structures that can make a valuable contribution to the future of faith life and give shape to the church of tomorrow and the world of tomorrow which in reality is now.
Our Christmas grace is that we celebrate God being born into our human experience, yours and mine. We each have our own, that forms who we are and the very place where we contemplate the God within, who shares life with us and blesses us. Whatever that looks like for each person. We celebrate our Epiphany grace today with the Magi, that this God of ours is for all people, each with their own uniqueness.
Right there we become the people of God always seeking more and more of God and how God transforms us as we move into solidarity with all others seeking this God of love, as we are. This contemplative way of life binds us together.
The new Monasticism is not just a theoretical concept says Roy McEntee in his book of that title, it is an orientation, a commitment that asks us to bring every aspect of our lives into a living relationship with God, with the Spirit, with one’s deepest self. McEntee also writes, that the new monasticism is a discipline, a certain ascetical way of being that allows us to reorient ourselves by making all that we are available to the Divine, so the work of transformation can happen. We look to become the hands of God doing the work of healing in this world, where the Spirit takes hold of us and lives through us.
If you are on the journey of transformation in God through Christ you are part of forming the new monasticism today in the world. We are the seekers who will bring this new understanding to the spiritual journey. Raimundo Panikkar speaks of monkhood as an archetype, a constitutive dimension of human life. That’s the one searching for the center, and so we ask the question, Am I living my monkhood? Brother David Steindal-Rast, answering it says, “if the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is God, you are a monk”. Are you living out of your “monkhood.”???
Thomas Merton writes that authentic renewal of monasticism demands a great deal of variety and originality in experimentation. It means seeking to find ways to honor your monkhood. This sounds like creating new spiritual networks in many different forms in the world. This call to live contemplatively is challenging us to live our life finding its fulfillment in God because the call to deeper life in God is part of how we are meant to be. And the answer to all of life’s challenges.
The Magi traveled far to pay homage to this God who comes to share our messy lives so we can see how-to live-in God, and know who we really are, when we look into the face of Christ. Like the Magi, we are on this quest to discern the truth and seek divine guidance in the midst of this dark night that is all too real for many people today. When we find Jesus, we can begin to find ways to heal the human community and to continue our journey into the fullness of God.