Gospel Reflection: The Magi, the priests and scribes, and a King
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Do you remember the first time you heard the story of the three Kings? We hear the story every Christmas, especially on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. This is the feast we celebrate to remind ourselves that Jesus revealed Himself not only to God’s chosen people, but to all people who seek Him.
The twist in the story is that it is the three pagan kings who find the “Newborn King of the Jews”, the “Saviour of the world”. Instead, the people who had kept the promise of this saviour alive, who were able to recall the prophecy about him, were not interested in finding Him. They greeted the news of His birth with fear and trembling, rather than with joy. The Person they had awaited for centuries, whose birth the three kings announced, had finally come. And they could care less.
What is the difference between the three Magi and the priests and scribes and Herod? The need for salvation – this is the difference. The Magi were looking for God because they knew that the unsatisfied longing in their hearts was for their Maker. And their search was satisfied because they engaged in a process of seeking and understanding the signs created by God that in the end lead them to God-made-Man, God-with-us.
What were the signs from God that were revealed to the Magi that accompanied them on their search? A star and the words of the Prophet Micah. The Book of Creation written by the finger of God and the Book of Sacred Scripture written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Magi were able to read the first book; the priests and scribes were able to read the second book. But only the Magi were able to put the two books together to gather enough meaning to make their search fruitful. They heard God speaking through these two books. The light of that word captured their hearts and, like the disciples going to Emmaus would one day experience, they were accompanied by the Word of God which then led them to recognise the Son of God, the Saviour of the world in a Babe lying in a manger. In the end, they enter into God’s plan of salvation just like Joseph did. For instead of being told through a created sign not to return to Herod, they are told in a dream.
Who am I? Who are you? Are we like the Magi who allow the signs in creation and in Sacred Scripture to accompany us on our search for meaning, for God, for the Saviour of the world, for salvation? Or are we like the priests and scribes, or like Herod who have become anesthetised to God’s voice speaking to us through these two books because we are seeking ourselves?
“What does it matter?” you ask. Those who search for what their heart desires will find it. They might make a mistake along the way, but they will know who to ask in order to get back on track. For us Christians who seek the Lord, if we allow God to guide us through what He has made and His word, we will surely find Him.