A man was complaining to a friend about his job: “The stress my boss puts on me is killing me! I get migraines! My blood pressure is through the roof! I can't sleep at night, and I just found out I have a stomach ulcer! If I stay on this job much longer, the only question is whether I'll die of a stroke or a heart attack!” So the friend inquired, “Then, why don't you just quit your job?” “Well,” replied the man, “Well, we have this terrific health plan!”
Making sense of our lives and putting the right pieces together is no simple matter. It's a task that's never finished. No matter how old or how wise we are or think we are, there's always another issue to tackle, another problem to solve, another challenge to test our mettle. For awhile we may try to ignore the matter, but eventually we have to deal with it. We soon realize we haven't seen all God wants to show us and we haven't become all God wants us to be.
If that's true, Epiphany is our feast! It's a celebration honoring some very wise people, Gentile scholars of the East, who knew there was more to life than what they had already experienced. Despite past successes, they were not satisfied. So when they saw that unusually bright star in the sky, they were willing to risk all, to leave the comfortable, the familiar behind and follow that star wherever it might lead.
After a tiring and perilous journey, these truly wise ones finally arrived at their destination. They had followed the star to find the Child & his family. Seeing him with his mother was their reward. Kneeling in reverence, they offered him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They instinctively understood they were in the presence of absolute Love and Vulnerability and simply reacted accordingly.
Through these wise scholars of old, God is telling us that our life journeys are far from over, no matter our age. There's always more life to experience, more room for our love to grow, more opportunities to share who we are and what we have with others. It may well be that we have no gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but we have more precious gifts to give, gifts of forgiveness, mercy and compassion.
Our lives are not complete as long as we still have a breath within us. So as we begin this New Year 2016, let's resolve here and now to live fully, to love gracefully and to travel our journey wisely. Most importantly, let's remember this: healing of body, mind and spirit – both our own and that of others – does not happen in isolation; it happens in community – in the community of family and in the community of faith – it happens right here in this community of Jesus Our Shepherd. Now that, dear people, is a terrific health plan. Amen!