We read in Scripture that magi from the east arrive in Jerusalem. Magi are understood to be astrologers and it was a common belief in ancient times that a new star appeared at the time of a ruler’s birth. Scripture does not call them kings. Scripture doesn’t say they were men but, considering the time in history when most women were at home trying to not get stoned to death for some infraction, it’s likely they were. Scripture doesn’t say there were three of them, although there were three gifts mentioned. So, it appears that legend and tradition have colored this story for many of us.
I for one, love the idea of The Three Kings. Royalty (men) humbling themselves. Offering their finest treasures. Following that Star in search of a greater treasure. I have fond memories of “our magi” being placed amongst the nativity crowd as a child. My own children would place them at our nativity (and sometimes throw in a statue of Santa for good measure). Our oldest son came bounding in the house once after a kindergarten religion class and proudly told us the story of the “Three Wise Guys”. Those are all warm, happy memories.
But what’s the relevance of the magi in my life today?
Am I searching for the true treasure? Am I able to surrender my comfort and security for the unknown? Am I capable of humbling myself? What gifts do I have to offer?
The story of the magi challenges me. I just retired after fifty years of working, and I have a feeling of uncertainty about my own future, but I can let go of my need for control and accept whatever changes life has to offer. And I have the freedom now to be a bit of a star gazer. I can search for new opportunities. I can serve God by serving others. I can humble myself by serving the poor, the disenfranchised, the immigrant, the imprisoned. The gifts I can give are dignity, respect and love. And I’m not traveling alone. The magi in my midst today (my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my friends) are carrying me as I stumble along my way. When I lose my focus, they will help me find that Star.
And my journey continues…
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11