There is a famous job interview question that asks a would-be employee a tricky question. What would you do if you were driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night – it’s raining cats and dogs, and the windscreen wipers are straining to keep up with the constant, heavy rain? All of a sudden, you pass by a bus stop that has no shelter from the torrential rain.
There are three people waiting for the bus.
- An old lady who looks like she’s about to die.
- An old friend who once saved your life.
- The person of your dreams – the perfect man (or woman) you have been dreaming of meeting and making your life partner. The problem is that you have only room in your car for one passenger.
Which one of the three would you choose to offer a ride to? You can’t offer a lift to all three, so which one would you stop and give a ride to?
The old lady, who I suppose represents the stranger in need?
Your old friend, to whom you owed your life?
The woman or man you were sure to spend the rest of your life with?
Would need, loyalty or love ultimately make the choice?
Any one of the three you could justify stopping for, and offering the ride. But if you were really clever you would give the car keys to your best friend and ask him to drive the old lady to the hospital. Meanwhile, you would stay there in the stormy night holding closely the love of your life and probably neither of you would notice how wet you were as you waited for the bus.
The solution to the problem was initially not the most obvious. It takes ability to see the problem differently!
Likewise, on this feast of the Epiphany, I suspect it took an ability to see the star differently for the wise ones who find Jesus in the middle of nowhere. In the year ahead, we’re called to see differently – to be able to see Jesus where he couldn’t possibly be. To make choices that lead us closer to God.
We’ll have to do some things differently than we have before – and that’s hard for us. Usually we like to sit back and just follow the pattern. But the Lord calls each one of us forward in one direction, as the three wise ones were, and then just as suddenly, sends us back another way.
What I do know is that sometimes it does take courage and trust to follow the star and walk humbly with God into the great adventure of 2023. What was true for the Three Wise Men is just as true for us today. To view each moment and each challenge differently is what it means to be a person of faith.
In the midst of all our lives God is making himself manifest – that’s what “epiphany” means. The stars will be out again tonight leading us somewhere!
Wishing you and yours every blessing for the coming week and coming year,
Fr Peter Brannelly