This reflection on the Epiphany will help youth understand that following Jesus means giving our whole selves over to him and leaving behind anything which is hindering us.
Imagine this. One day your family gathers for a family meeting. You are told that the family is going to go on an adventure all next summer. You are going to leave your house behind and spend two months driving all over the country and sightseeing. Because of the limited space in the car, you must be able to fit everything you want to take with you in a large duffle bag. This includes clothes, toiletries, electronics, books, games, everything.
- What would you pack in your bag?
- How would you make decisions about how many clothes to take versus other items?
- What would be difficult to leave behind?
- Is there anything which you would want to take but would just be too big?
- How would you feel about this plan.
Read Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.Matthew 2:1-12
Think about the Magi. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long their journey took, but it does seem it was significant. And they would have had to leave some things behind to follow that star.
But they were willing to make the journey, because they knew they would encounter someone special, even though they might not have known exactly how that would play out. It seems almost certain that they encountered problems and delays, but they didn’t quit. They could have tried to take shortcuts and gotten lost, but they stayed on the right path. Herod could have been a roadblock, but they got around him.
They gave up their time, their treasure, and really themselves to make this journey. They kept their eyes on that star and followed it. They put their best effort into it, believing that would be enough.
We are all on a journey through life.
- What are your goals right now? What are you journeying toward?
- Does your journey toward your goals also lead you on a journey towards Jesus? Why or why not? If not, what can you do to make those paths align?
- What are some roadblocks or barriers which prevent you from getting closer to Jesus?
- What are some distractions which might cause you to get lost?
- What will help you stay on the right path? (Mass, friends who support you in faith, prayer, service, etc.)
- If find yourself on the wrong path, what can you do? (confession)
Close your eyes. Imagine you are walking with the wise men. You have found the child you sought! The reading tells us that the magi were overjoyed at this moment. You sense their joy and it is infectious. You want to give something also, but you didn’t bring anything. You decide to give a part of yourself completely over to Jesus. It can be a talent, or a part of your day, or something else. You whisper your gift to the child. He smiles at you and takes your hand. You feel peace in his presence.
Open your eyes. You don’t have to tell anyone what gift you decided to give. This month, commit to really give that gift. If necessary, make a tangible reminder to help you remember.
Close with a prayer.