[Yes, my friends, I have been aware for some time now that I started counting my twelve days of Christmas on the wrong day, the day after Christmas. Technically today is the first day of the season of Epiphany, not the last day of Christmastide. So humor me while I pretend that the visit of the wise men is the climax of the Christmas season. I’ll do better next year!]
This twelfth day of Christmastide is a special day on my personal calendar. Eighteen years ago on this date my father died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. At the time, I processed his swift departure from this life with gratitude for his own Epiphany. For all the fears we carry about death, the Christian belief that when we die we shall see Jesus is the most comforting of all. We so often hear the words “So-and-so is in a better place now,” and this well-meaning cliché is not untrue. But what is really a balm to the soul is to know that our Christ-believing loved ones are with a better Person!
The wise men made their trek west, following the star of Bethlehem, to Jerusalem where they met with King Herod. As I commented yesterday, this was a logical stopover for the strangers, since they were looking for “the King of the Jews.” But when they got there, it was clear they were in the wrong place talking to the wrong person. They were looking for Another, and with the clues they gleaned from Scripture with the help of Teachers of the Jewish Law, they realized this and moved on to where Jesus was.