Reflection on the Gift of the Heart

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (See Matthew 2:1-12 NRSV).

Christina Rossetti wrote in verse 4 of her hymn In the Bleak Mid-Winter,

“What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part; yet what can I give him–give my heart.” (See The Hymnal 1982, #122).

The gifts of the shepherds and wise men represent the giving of what they treasured most. Whatever they treasured; how ever much they valued what they had; finding the Word Incarnate was the empowerment for the Magi to offer their precious gifts to Jesus. They gave up the comfort of wherever they came from, and they searched without giving up until they found what their hearts desired.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB in her book Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light wrote, “To be contemplative I must put down my notions of separateness from God and let God speak to me through the universe into the pores of my minuscule life” (p.43).

In The Rule of St. Benedict, he tells us at the beginning of the Prologue to “incline the ear of the heart” where our essence is. Our essence is the source of our eternal truth. We can offer our heart, our essence to help us search for union with The Word who was with God, and was God. When we offer that most precious of personal treasure as a gift to be used by the Holy Spirit; the sky is the limit. The sky becomes so dazzling, that there might be a star showing us the way to the Light of God.

What is the treasure you are offering to God on this Epiphany?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

BaptismoftheLord

 

And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17 NRSV).

In a world where it seems that everyone is so critical and suspicious of each other, it is so wonderful to know that our God views us very differently.

The manifestation of Christ which is what we celebrate in this Season of The Epiphany also means revelation.   In the Baptism of Christ, Jesus goes an extra step forward.  Following Jesus’ Baptism, God says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.”

In Jesus, God takes on human flesh and reclaims our broken humanity.  We are renewed in body, soul, mind and spirit.  When God says that Jesus is God’s Beloved with Whom God is well pleased; God is saying that so are we who share in the mystery of our redemption in Christ.  In and through Jesus, we too are God’s Beloved, with Whom God is well pleased.

What wondrous words to spend time in silence and contemplation with.  We don’t need to talk very much.  What we need is to ponder with Mary in our hearts, that God is here among us and claiming us as God’s Beloved, and with us, God is well pleased.

Do you see yourself as God’s Beloved, with whom God is well pleased?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

“In his goodness, God has already counted us as God’s children.” (The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue).

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The Manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ

feast of the epiphany

 

“For we’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” (Matthew 2:2, Common English Bible).

I get the sense that the Magi were very contemplative men.   They each saw this star that was unusual to them.  They did not take it at face value alone.  They sensed that there was more to it.   They saw the star as drawing them to seek something much more significant than the star.  The star must have woken something in their hearts to leave their distant lands to look for whatever the star was pointing to.  It was not just a visual or metaphysical phenomena.  It was illuminating something wonderful, important and life-changing.  They would never see the world the same way again.

If we read Saint Matthew’s Gospel chapter 2 a little further we read:

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.  They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him.  They opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Additionally, I get the sense that once they found out where the star was leading them; the joy from within came from knowing that what they contemplated within themselves became a living reality.  They knew where the true treasures of their hearts belonged.  In response, they handed over all that was valuable to them materially and symbolically to the God who manifested God’s Self in Christ.

Today, God continues to manifest God’s presence in and through the many symbols and signs of the world.  God uses them to call us to seek union with Christ from the inside out.  God radiates the Light of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ into our hearts so that we may see the best of what God has for us; so that the treasured love of Christ within us can reflect from our hearts to a world of darkness and doubt.

How is God seeking to manifest Christ through us today?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB