How do we light the way for others seeking Jesus?
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Something I’ve often heard people say of late is, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” By that statement I believe they mean that they do acknowledge that God exists and that they may even pray to God and have some sense of God’s love for them, but they are not connected to a Sacred Story or a religious tradition.
Were the magi in the Gospel for this Sunday -- the great feast of Epiphany, the climax of the Christmas season -- spiritual but not religious? We really don’t know, but we do know that they were not Jewish and were not part of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. They were, however, seeking something deep and meaningful, and they felt compelled to follow the Star. Eventually they found themselves kneeling before a manger and a Child. Having been warned about Herod’s deceitful scheme, they returned home by another way.
As disciples responding to the call to evangelize, our role is primarily to be the Star. Rather than standing in the stable, waiting for people to arrive so that we can explain the Story, we simply let our light shine in a way that attracts them to search deeper. The focus of our ministry is on the journey, not the destination, while we never lose sight of the stable. Our challenge is to shine so brightly that others are overjoyed when they come in contact with our light, and they are motivated to stay on the road. We need to trust that eventually they will find Him, they will bow in humble adoration, and their lives will move forward in a new direction.
- Who are the people you have met who are “spiritual but not religious”?
- In what ways have they been intrigued by what you have said or done?
- How can you let your light shine ever more brightly?
Your reflection, Elise, makes me think of the extraordinarily rare gift our world was given this year as 2020, a year of extraordinarily rare 'darkness,' was coming to an end, and the celebration of the birth of Christ was upon us -- the "Christmas Star," as people called it, with the convergence of Saturn and Jupiter on Winter Solstice 2020.
People all over the world found new meaning, purpose, and hope through this once-in-800-years astronomical event. I called it to the attention of my children and grandchildren, making sure they all knew how spectacular-of-times we are living in, to be reawakened to a Deep Mystery -- of grace, perhaps -- like none other we have known.
Your reflection also reminds me of the verse on a Christmas card I read many years ago, and purchased multiple boxes of them because I liked the saying so well -- "Star of Bethlehem shine in our hearts. Show us Christ dwelling there."
And it reminds me, too, of a photo that was recently sent from a contemplative site: A wintry road, encased between rows of snow-laden, barren trees, a misty, hazy light ahead. It gave me great pause to consider how I will say 'good-bye' to the darkness of 2020, and journey into the new light of 2021.
Perhaps the Magi, too, after years of longing to leave the darkness of an oppressively cruel and hurtful world behind them and enter into a new kind of light they had not yet known, were intuitively guided by that same Spirit - the Spirit of Wisdom -- ever infinite, ever eternal -- and the Light-of-Christ which led the way.
As you point out, Elise, we are today's Magi. Seeing and following the Christmas Star, we reflect its ight. Finding "THE" Christmas Star in the Person of JESUS, Christ, we can, ultimately, reflect the Christ-Light, as well.
This is grace-at-work-in-us.