It’s likely we are all familiar with the three wise men, who arrived at the Nativity scene, even if only through the Christmas hymn “We Three Kings.” But we know relatively little about them. Early writings and Church traditions tell us that they were named Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar, and instead of Kings, as they are often portrayed, they were more likely Persian priest astrologers who could interpret the stars. Most likely, they had been watching the sky for years, waiting for alignments that would foretell the birth of the prophesied Messiah.
After years of waiting, and after following the star over such a long distance, I am sure the last thing they were expecting to find was a small child in a stable. How could this unlikely and helpless creature hold the world’s salvation?
But when the Magi arrived, they didn’t hesitate. They saw and they knew. And similar to David when the Ark entered the city, the men did something unexpected; they fell on their knees and offered gifts to the newborn Lord and His Mother, the Ark of the New Covenant. They presented Him with gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh--gifts of great value and gifts made for a king.
St John Chrysostom says, in a homily on this Chapter of Matthew: "If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God.”
Are we searching for a heavenly King when we seek Jesus? Or are we seeking an image of Him of our own invention? Are we seeking truth or are we seeking what we want truth to be? As this season of Advent draws near a close and as we prepare to welcome the Christmas season, we have an opportunity to recognize the King the Magi saw in this little babe. We are able to encounter Christ as He truly is--a God who loves us enough to take on our nature and to raise us up with Him. How can you recognize and come to a deeper understanding of who God is?
To Jesus through Mary -Carissa Pluta