January 4, 2015


They prostrated themselves and did him homage. – Mt. 2: 11

   Remember “Charlie,” the deep sea tuna in the old “Star-Kist” TV commercials? He was always trying to attract the attention of the company fisherman by being cultural & sophisticated. But despite his best efforts, the hook always eluded him with the same reminder: “Sorry Charlie! Star-Kist is not looking for fish with good taste, but fish that taste good.”

   That Ad says a lot about us. People everywhere want to be in good taste. They want to project a good image, to improve their self-image. One example is the designer industry. We’ve been conditioned to believe that something is seriously lacking in our lives if we are not displaying some designer’s name on the backside of our blue jeans, or on our luggage, our scarves, our shirts & suits. Still, I think most of us sense just how superficial & shallow all this is. We need something more to sustain our sense of worthwhileness as a human being, something that can transform our lives of insecurity into lives that taste good.

   Life that tastes good comes from a sense of dedication & purpose: steady, constant witness to what is true & what is real. What we are looking for is something worth holding on to.

   Jesus is calling to the one thing needful that gives life to us & to the world. He is calling us to purpose, to permanence, & to stability & not to the fluff of life which tries to distract us. Whether we realize it or not, when it comes down to who we are & why we are & where our true destiny lies, the fluff – even when it is packaged in good taste – is NOT the one thing needful to make our lives taste good. The one thing needful is to be at one with the gracious God who loves us with an infinite love & wants us for His own.

   Like the wise men that followed the star, we need to fall down & worship the infant in the manger. Indeed, the very word worship means to bend the knee or bow with reverence. This is something we’ve forgotten how to do, & that is tragic. This ‘forgetfulness,’ this loss of any sense of worship or of the sacred, goes far deeper than any mere preference for types of liturgy. It speaks to the very heart of a sickness that pervades our culture today, a sickness far more deadly & devastating than AIDS or Ebola.

   I remember seeing a documentary film that included one of Hitler’s speeches.  One phrase he used stands out in my memory: “In our own hands, in our hands alone, lies the destiny of the German people. We were not brought forth by the state. It is we who created our state.”

   This fatal tendency to worship no power higher than our own is increasingly manifest is our world today. It can lead either into a ludicrous farce wherein we attempt the awkward maneuver to bowing to ourselves, or into the horror of bowing to self-made idols. Either way, the result is all too predictable: catastrophe.

   This was something the Magi who came to Bethlehem were wise enough to understand. It was something that Herod & Hitler could not. Which is it to be for us? If we would be among the wise, then we must bring Him the most precious gift of all, the only one our Lord really wants: our hearts!  AMEN!