Click to hear Audio Homily
In October 1962, a songwriter named Noel Regney was walking through the streets of New York City. He noticed that no one on the street was smiling; there was a sense of despair in the air. His boss had recently asked him to write a Christmas song for the radio, but for days he could not find inspiration in the city where a general malaise had set in. At that time, the Soviet Union and the United States were involved in a crisis centered on missiles the Russians had installed in Cuba. The United States threatened military action if the missiles were not removed. The world trembled at the possibility of a nuclear war and prayed as these two nuclear powers stood eyeball-to-eyeball. As he walked the streets of New York City, the songwriter pondered about the horrors of World War II that he endured in his native country France. He knew the fear and terror of being close to death. The safe and secure life he had built for himself in the United States seemed as though it was on the verge of ending. En route to his home, he spotted two mothers with their babies in strollers. The little angels were looking at each other and smiling. All of a sudden, his mood changed and an inspiration came; the little ones reminded him of newborn lambs. He rushed home and wrote down the lyrics that came to his mind. He asked his wife to put music to the lyric. Thus came about a classic Christmas song that is beloved everywhere even now.
Noel Regney was, in a sense, in search of Christ -- similar to the search the Magi faced over two thousand years ago. We do not know what was happening in the personal lives of the three Kings, but they were inwardly prompted to search for Christ. Something clicked inside of them when they saw the star in the sky, and they interpreted it as a sign for them to follow. Before they left on their journey, the three Kings prepared gifts for the child. They didn’t just haphazardly pack the camels and leave on their trip; for them, this was a pilgrimage, knowing that at the end of the trip they were going to encounter the Christ Child, and they were going to offer something of themselves as a gift to the Christ Child. Their faithfulness to their calling was strong. They overcame every difficulty and hindrance which stood in their way, so as to follow the star. They made tremendous sacrifices for this pilgrimage. They had to leave their country, their palaces, their families, and their kingdom, or in other words, they had to leave everything which was most dear to them in the world.
Whether we know it or not, we too are in search for Christ. Like Noel Regney and the Three Kings, we are pilgrims on a pilgrimage to encounter Christ. Looking back this past year, we may have had both joyful and painful experiences, loss of our loved ones, or disappointments. We may ask ourselves, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ We are in search for an answer or meaning to which there seems be no adequate explanation. Instead of being anxious of what will happen this year, pray that we will see the signposts of God’s presence and providence each day. Among the new year’s resolutions we make this year, make it a resolution to answer God’s invitation to know and love His Son more. God asks us to embark on this journey with joyful anticipation, willing to be open, flexible, and accept His guidance, wherever it may lead us. On our pilgrimage to find Christ in our lives, we too must sacrifice and give ourselves to Him. We will find that as we begin to search for the Christ Child, we will see and hear His presence in all the ordinary events of our lives -- just as Noel Regney captured in the Christmas song he wrote during Cuban Missile Crisis attests:
Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite.”
Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”
-Fr. Paul Yi