a biblical and personal reflection, based on Matthew 2.1-12, for the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2017
January. Named for Janus, the Roman mythological god of gates and doors, entries and exits, beginnings and endings; often depicted with a double-faced head, one looking to what was, the other to what is to come.
A fitting image, matching the lovely story of magi following a star, finding a transforming revelation in a Bethlehem born baby, returning home by another way, looking back and looking forward.
A fitting image for our stories, we who have entered a new year.
Still, I think there must be less, therefore more to life than this simple, swivel-headed, potentially dizzying experience of looking back to what was, what is known, what is “once upon a time” and looking forward to what is to come, what is unknown, what is not yet in time. If looking back and forward is all or even much of what we do, then, I think, we can miss and will miss what is most true.
For between the two countenances of Janus, one peering into the past, the other gazing into the future, we see his true face – invisible, incapable of representation, for it looks always at the present.
The present. This instant moment, the immediate moment, the only moment in which you and I, with all who we are and all that we have, can be.
The magi came from afar, found the one for whom they had searched, and “left for their own country by another road.” Maybe this was their epiphany, the light of insight they experienced at Bethlehem. Maybe this is how they were changed. To live in each present moment, bringing, being all that they would, all that they could be.
Maybe this is a fitting, faithful reminder for you and for me in 2017.
Janus, from the Nave ceiling of The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence, Waltham Abbey, Essex, England
The Journey of the Magi (1894), James Tissot (1836-1902)