we observed (εἴδω) his star at its rising. (Matthew 2:2b)

It is a small but powerful word and important not to miss its significance – εἴδω means much more than just “to see” as in the KJV translation,

we have seen his star in the east.

“εἴδω” means “to perceive”, “to discern”, “pay attention to”, “to know” (in the sense of intimate knowledge), or “to have regard for.”

The magoi in Matthew’s story have been paying close attention to the world around them. They have been listening deeply to the phenomenon of the universe. Their careful attention leads them to the light.

But, too often we miss the signs. We fail to pay careful enough attention to the realities unfolding around us. We miss the cues; we fail to hear the deeper rhythms of mystery that sound beneath the surface of our life circumstances. These magoi, looked more deeply. And, because they paid careful attention, they saw what others missed.

“The Big Short” is a difficult movie to watch, not just because it is filled with profanity, but because it portrays a world gone mad with greed, corruption, excess, and self-indulgence. “The Big Short” tells the story of the collapse of financial markets in the early 2000’s. The film focuses on four men who saw the collapse coming and became fabulously wealthy by betting against subprime-mortgages. One of these men was a banker at Deutsche Bank. Early in the film Jered Vennett explains the key to success for the film’s four heroes saying,

there were some who saw it coming. While the whole world was having a big old party, a few outsiders and weirdos saw what no one else could. Not me. I’m not a weirdo… These outsiders saw the giant lie at the heart of the economy, and they saw it by doing something the rest of the suckers never thought to do: They looked.

They did what the magoi did: “They looked.” They stepped aside and paid attention.

The world of “The Big Short” is a wired, intense, pumped-up world. Everything in “The Big Short” moves at lightening speed. A millisecond can mean millions of dollars.

In the magoi, travel was slow and quiet. No one got anywhere quickly traveling by camel. There was lots of time to observe the terrain, to perceive the subtle changes in the landscape and to look up at the stars and observe the movements in the heavens. There were no fast trains in the ancient world. Life in ancient times provided opportunity to ponder.

If we are going to see more deeply, we need to take the slow route. Beauty and truth will not be rushed. The deeper realities of life do not reveal themselves to the hasty inquirer or the pushy pilgrim. Life unfolds according to a schedule we do not control and cannot dictate. Revelation will not conform to our agenda or our demands.

The seer is one who is willing to be patient, to open afresh each day to the unfolding reality of what is. The seer is one who is willing to lay aside all demands and expectations. This is why true seeing comes to the one who adopt the posture of the magoi who

On entering the house, saw the child with Mary his mother; and knelt down and paid him homage. (Matthew 2:11)

Jered Vennett makes it clear in a conversation with his colleagues what runs the world of “The Big Short”:

Jared Vennett: You smell that? What is that?

Mark Baum: What?

Jared Vennett:  What’s that smell?

Vinnie Daniel: Your cologne?

Jared Vennett: No.

[pause and looks to his assistant]

Chris: Opportunity.

Jared Vennett: No. Money.

Porter Collins Ooh…

Jared Vennett: I smell money.

In “The Big Short”, there is only one object of worship and it can all be measured with a $ sign. The $ shaped the world that created the conditions for the financial crisis of the early 2000’s.

So much comes down to where we kneel. What is the altar at which we worship? To whom do we pay homage? Our journey is largely shaped by what we reverence. Our lives look like what we worship.