Granddaughter Hannah celebrates her third birthday this weekend—perfect timing, as it happens, for her Gramps to ponder the great blessings she has conferred upon him since making her debut.
It’s not that becoming a grandfather has made me a Wise Man, exactly. But it has offered myriad opportunities to gaze upon the world in a richer, more satisfying way.
In that sense, I suppose I’m not much different than the original Magi – who, in their search for a newborn King – quite naturally stopped first at the palace in Jerusalem to look him up.
Ah, but our God is a God of surprises.
And it turns out that this child for whom they searched…this child, over whom the heavens fawned and the bright star shone…had taken up residence in far more humble circumstances than Herod’s palace.
So one of the spiritual gifts of this great feast, it seems, is an encouragement along those lines: a nudge for each of us to grow in wisdom…by not relying always on first impressions or the tyranny of reason.
A meditation prepared for this weekend’s liturgy (at Pray-As-You-Go) puts it this way:
Every epiphany or revelation is not just given to our eyes. Our seeing must also be accompanied by understanding. This is the great movement of this Christmas season, as it reshapes and reforms our lives. And it opens us…[to] a new way of being and acting, of living, and loving, and hoping.
A grandchild – and perhaps especially the first grandchild – can be a particularly fruitful way to enter into such divine mystery.
I know in my case Hannah has been a bearer of a great many gifts throughout her first three years among us: joy and wonder and word and laughter and energy. But perhaps most of all she blesses me, blesses us, with an experience of unconditional love – and a reminder of the heavenly Source of that love.
This is the greatest Epiphany gift of all, is it not? To know that God, who is Love, even today seeks to enter in…and transform our hearts.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.