Time will tell how January 6 will be remembered by historians. It is a day I will remember as a day of dramatic contrasts between chaos at the capital on the radio while I was driving to make Epiphany cupcake deliveries. In the middle of all of this activity, I was called to the hospital to pray as we lost a long time member of our parish. January 6th, besides being the date on which the Constitution requires the certification of the Electoral College vote, is also the Feast of the Epiphany.
On Epiphany Christians around the world remember the coming of the Magi to visit a young Jesus in Bethlehem. For Christians in the western world Epiphany also marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas. For Eastern Orthodox Christians this day is called Theophany, or the manifestation of God, seen in the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist – a moment which most Christians in the western world celebrate the following Sunday.
The Feast of the Epiphany and the season of Epiphany which follows is about the search for truth. In my opinion one of the biggest problems we face as a nation concerns the search for truth. We cannot seem to agree on what the truth is, especially when it comes to politics. People on opposing sides of the political landscape look to completely different sources for their news.
Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. There have been periods in the course of our history when competing news sources adjusted their coverage based on the political leanings of whoever owned the newspaper or whichever political machine ran the city. Muckraking is the old term, and papers were known for it at the turn of the century.
I don’t have an answer to this problem, but I do think we can learn something valuable from the Magi we remembered on January 6. First, we learn that the search for truth is difficult. The text does not give us all the details, but it may have taken the Magi as long as two years to travel from their homes to Bethlehem. Imagine searching for this new born king for two years. This is dedication.
In our search for truth we should not take the word of any one news source as fact, but we should search and dig to discover the truth. The Magi had to do this as well. King Herod had an agenda and mislead them, so it took time for them to discover the truth. It is also worth checking sources from both ends of the political divide. The truth may be somewhere in the middle. If someone has an agenda, like king Herod, we should take that into consideration when we evaluate their message.
We also learn that the search for the truth is also worth the effort. When the Magi arrived, it is possible they were surprised to find the new king of the Jews was part of a poor unknown family. Yet, whatever their expectations, they still offered the best gifts they could bring – gifts they had carried a long time over a long distance.
My own search for truth has led me to seek the same destination as the Magi. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” It seems in our country we are asking the same question. Ironically, the truth was standing in front of Pilate as he asked the question. My prayer is that in the new year we will open our eyes to find that truth. My hope is that we will walk in the way of Jesus knowing that self sacrificial love will never lead us in the wrong direction.