I want to talk this morning about zombies. . . .
Yes, zombies – you know, the living dead that you see in horror movies.
I don’t watch a lot of movies compared to a lot of people, but in my time I’ve watched a number of strange movies. One of them was The Night of the Living Dead, which is basically about an attack by zombies. (For the connoisseur, check out Dawn of the Dead, part of which takes place in a shopping mall!) Zombies, the living dead seek out the living that they might turn them into the living dead. They find a living human, focus on them, follow them, and then feed on them.
All of us in many ways are like these zombies: we find something significant, we focus on it, we follow or pursue it, and then finally we feed on or consume in some way what we have found so that we may find life.
Like zombies, we also often walk around spiritually half-dead. And like zombies, we seek one who is living.
But unlike zombies, who turn the living into the living dead, we find, focus on, follow, and feed on Jesus Christ, who is the Living One. And He turns us, the living-dead, into ones who truly live.
First, we need to find Jesus Christ. The magi or wise men found Jesus Christ. How did this happen? They spent time seeking Him. They studied the sky, and they spent time pondering Him and how to find Him. They had to not only find the star but also know what it meant. And so they found His star because they were “star struck.” Of course they were looking for the greater star that the star of Bethlehem could lead them to, for Jesus Christ is the true Star of Bethlehem.
We, too, need to be star struck by Christ Himself. But God uses many kinds of stars, each with its own glory, to lead us to His Son. This is why I subscribe to the sacramental worldview (it comes to my front door every morning) in which every part of the creation is a way to come to the Creator. God uses different means to entice and capture each of us. There are many parts of His creation that are flashy and glorious. But what should really catch our attention and hold it, as with all wise men, is Jesus Christ Himself, who is Wisdom.
It’s not enough just to find or hear about this most stellar of persons: we must focus on Him in order to finally feed on Him. And so the Magi focused on the Star of Bethlehem. Presumably, they came from Arabia or Persia, which were 1000 to 1200 miles away. To come to the One who was the Star would take 3-12 months – by camel! To make the journey would take weeks of preparation. In fact, they probably arrived to see Jesus months after He had already been born. During that whole time they never lost their focus on the star and to whom it would lead them. They spared no expense to come to Him.
Like the Magi, we must not lose focus. How long can you stare at a single object without looking away or being distracted? How long can you look at something without moving your eyes or blinking? My son Charlie says he can do it for 92 seconds, although this has yet to be replicated in lab tests.
It is so easy to get distracted in this life. One of the greatest blessings of having gone to Belize for a mission trip for a week was the blessing of leaving my distractions (which are often my blessings) back home. No TV, no Internet, no e-mail. No “To Do List.” Just a simple rediscovery of John Milton’s, “They also serve who only stand to wait.”We may have the best of intentions to find and follow Jesus at the beginning of the day. And then, when we finally wake and the day comes, it has a way of just happening. Our lives are swept away by a tidal wave of activity, a sky filled with threatening clouds of To Do Lists that destroy our real purpose in life. For one of the things that almost never makes it onto these lists is to seek, find, and follow Jesus Christ. How often do we safely reach the end of the day by the grace of God and say or feel, “I wish I had stayed more focused on Jesus”?
Once you have found Jesus Christ, so much of the rest of the Christian life is simply not to lose focus.
Once we have found Jesus Christ and focused on Him, we must choose to follow Him. After the Magi had seen the star in the East, they followed it all the way to Bethlehem and where the Christ child lay.
Wherever the star went, the wise men followed, for they sought Christ. Having found Him, to be truly wise, we must follow Him. Wherever Jesus Christ goes before us, we must follow. The people of God have seen a great light, and we must follow it until we join with it.
This might – it will – involve changing our plans. It must involve changing our direction, and actually it does, every day. We have Stars of Bethlehem to lead us to Christ: they are the Word of God and His Church, and we must align our lives with God – not the other way around.
After we have found, focused on, and followed Jesus Chris, what do we do, as holy zombies? We get to feed on Him. The wise men fed by rejoicing in presence of God and worshiping Him: “When they saw they star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.”
Having come to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, to Jesus, we must then feed on Him. He is a feast for our souls! We feast on His presence and light, and we participate in His glorious, loving presence. In His light, we become light. “Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy” (Isaiah 60:1,5).
We eat the Bread of Life until we find life and become part of the Life that is the light of the world.
This is wisdom, this is faith. For Faith = Find + Focus + Follow + Feed.
Prayer: O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest they only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
- Meditate upon each aspect of wisdom and faith: finding, focusing, following, and feeding. Which of these is something to which God is calling you in particular?
- Jesus is the Bread of Life: how can you feast on Him today with joy and satisfaction?
Resolution: I resolve to find Jesus today and focus on Him throughout the day. In particular, I resolve to follow Him wherever I hear Him calling me, feeding on Him along the way.
© 2016 Fr. Charles Erlandson