From the Vine ~ Orienting the Periphery Toward the Centre
This is one of the most beautiful, insightful, and thought-provoking reflections on the three wise men I have ever read, and I count it a great blessing to share it with you.
Many writings and reflections focus on the three wise men from 2,000 years ago. In this reflection, my dear friend Patti Jannuzzi focuses on the here and now —God-with-us TODAY, as she asks us to consider the three wise men God has gifted us, in our time, to lead us to His Son. —Kelly Wahlquist
By Patti Jannuzzi
Over two thousand years ago, Our Savior was born. Angels sang. Shepherds watched. Wise men visited. The three wise men followed a star in the Heavens to find Our God, Our Centre, humbly lying in a manger. Christ arrived and laid where the animals ate. The wise kings knelt. They offered Him gifts.
Not much is known about the three wise men, such as who gave what gift, but I like to think Caspar, the youngest, offered gold, signifying humble kingship. Melchior, the mindful stargazer, offered the smoke of Frankincense, signifying prayer and His divinity. Balthazar offered Myrrh, a fragrant ointment used to anoint the dead, signifying His humanity and our humanity.
The three wise men departed by a different route to protect the new born King from the jealous tyranny of Herod the Great. They entered Bethlehem with temporal treasure. They left with eternal treasure. They continued into the periphery. The eternal centre of Christ was stamped in their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
Approximately two thousand years later, on the cusp of the third millennium, in the small “peripheries” of Poland, Germany, and Argentina, three male infants were born to be baptized as Carol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger, and Jorge Bergoglio. They were lovingly raised in the tender lap of Mother Church. At a young age, they encountered Christ in the “Centres” of their families and Church. As they grew up, they learned to follow the Heavenly Star, Our Blessed Mother, who led them to Christ.
Carol joined a “living Rosary.” Joseph frequented the Marian Shrine of Otting. And Jorge devoted himself deeply to Our Lady of Knots and Our Lady of Aparcedia. Like the three wise men, Mary’s prayer, the heavenly star, guided these young men to Christ.
They heard the Lord ask, “What gifts do you bring to me, Carol, Joseph, and Jorge?”
They answered, “Our complete lives, Lord. We want to be your priests.” God accepted their gifts with joy! They were anointed. They became His priests.
Each developed their God-given gifts in extraordinary ways and under extraordinary circumstances. Carol used them in the periphery of philosophy, under the dictates of Nazism and Communism. Joseph used them in the periphery of theology, under the dictates of theological revolutionaries. Jorge used them in the periphery of the poor, under the dictates of corruption.
Each had threatening adversaries such as Nazism, Communism, Corruption, Fundamentalism, Atheism, Secularism, and the worst enemy of all, betrayal from within. Each answered their adversaries with humility, love, dialogue, and prayer.
Time passed, but again the star appeared, and Mary prayerfully guided them to profoundly encounter Christ. Again, the Lord asked, “What gifts do you have for me Carol, Joseph, and Jorge?”
They responded, “Lord, we have given you our lives!”
The Lord continued to prod “What unique gifts do each of you have to shepherd my people, my people universal? My people are scattered in a confused ‘periphery.’ They do not recognize me as their ‘centre’ and source. They erroneously think that their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls are disconnected from, and not integrated with me, their creator and source of life. They worship idols. They are unanchored and afloat in a dark and cold periphery. They do not look or listen to my love in my written word. They do not recognize me or hear my heart in the Eucharist. They do not see me in their brothers and sisters who suffer and are weak. What gifts do you have to offer me for my people?”
Carol is the first to answer. He humbly states, “Like Balthazar, who offered you Myrrh for the anointing of the body, Lord, I will offer you my body. I will teach the souls of your people ‘Theology of the Body,’ which is your truth explaining why we are created male and female. I will teach them that our bodies matter. I will go even further and witness by using any bodily suffering you allow to point to you so that they might see the value of redemptive suffering and conclude that all life matters. Our embodiment matters. Divinely matters. I could offer more if it is your will, but that would be my starting point.”
The Lord replied, “Go, and be not afraid, Pope John Paul II, I am with you.”
Joseph is the second to answer, “Like Melchior, who used his mind to study the heavens and offered you incense to point to your transcendence, Lord, I will offer you my mind and its knowledge of your tradition, scriptures, and liturgy. I will instruct your people on the transcendent nature of your Liturgy and reintroduce them to the ancient prayer of Lectio Divina and Eucharistic Adoration so that they may personally encounter your mind and heart as their Centre. I will teach them the hermeneutic on continuity and reinforce the truth that all Church teaching flows from the same source, your Centre, and does not break from the past. I could offer more, but that would be my starting point.”
The Lord said, “Go, and be my humble servant in the vineyard, Pope Benedict XVI, I am with you.”
Jorge is the third to answer, “Like Caspar, who offered you gold for your humble Kingship, Lord, I will offer you my heart as a heart of gold centered on the poor. Through my life witness, I will lead your newly ‘centered’ people into the periphery and away from their comfort zone. I will teach them to be missionaries so that they may reach the souls of the poor, lost, confused, rejected, suffering, and abandoned. I will teach them to reach out with your heart, mind, and body. I will teach them to give joyfully and humbly your mercy in the periphery.
The Lord said, “Go, and walk in the periphery with my people, Pope Francis, I am with you.”
And so now it is our turn. The Lord asks, “What gifts do you bring for my people? What unique gifts do you have to build my kingdom?”
Do you generously offer the eternal centre of Christ? Do you recognize Christ who is sacramentally stamped within your heart, mind, body, and soul for His mission?
The Lord has set the stage for the New Millennium! He has given us three great wise men with extraordinary gifts to lead us. Let us embrace them! Let us follow their lead and give back to God the gifts He has given us to build His kingdom. And let us go to the periphery proclaiming Christ is the center of our lives in all we do!
Essay by Patti Jannuzzi originally posted January 5, 2014, on KellyWahlquist.com.
Written by Kelly Wahlquist
Kelly Wahlquist is a Catholic speaker, author and evangelist. She is the founder of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, and the Assistant Director for the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis. Kelly a contributing writer for CatholicMom.com and The Integrated Catholic Life. Kelly travels the country speaking to all on various topics that inspire us to live the New Evangelization, but has a special love for speaking at Catholic women’s conferences. She resides in Minnesota with her husband, Andy, and their three children, and is active in their parish, Holy Name of Jesus.