Since today is Epiphany Sunday here in the USA, it fell this past Friday nearly everywhere else; I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that focuses on the Magi. This excerpt comes from the book titled, Benedictus – Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. A friend gave it to me last year and I hope to use it this year at work for daily meditations.
Once I provide you with this heart-penetrating excerpt (because when I read it, my response was – Wow!), I am going to share with you the journey of the Magi through pictures from my new Nativity set, which began around Christmas Eve and ended with them seeing Baby Jesus and the Holy Family on Friday. Even though I am not married nor do I have children, I felt the need to do this with my own Magi as they approached Baby Jesus on Epiphany in my own home. It will be a tradition I carry on from here on out and one that I hope to share with a family some day.
In the biblical text, when the Magi showed up at Herod’s door seeking the New Born King of the Jews, Herod was scared and nervous since he was only a puppet king the Romans put in place to rule. He was not about to give us his dominion to some young child. After realizing the Magi would never return, because he asked them to come back and share with him their findings (they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod), Herod’s anger grew and he ordered the killing of all male children three and under. Liturgically, we celebrate this as the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28.
Why three years and under you may ask? It took the Magi somewhere between two to three years after they met with King Herod to locate our Lord, who would have been around 2 or 3 years old. Furthermore, although Our Lord would have been older by the time the Magi arrived, we often see him as a little baby in a manager in most Nativity sets. Again, this has to do with the way we liturgically celebrate the Christmas Season, which includes the arrival of the Magi on Epiphany.
So with this being said, let’s turn our attention to the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – this excerpt is titled, What the Magi Learned –
“Going into the house, the Magi saw the child…Outwardly, their journey was now over. But at this point a new journey began for them which changed their whole lives…Deep within themselves they felt prompted to go in search of the true justice that can only come from God, and they wanted to serve this King, to fall prostrate at his feet and so play their part in the renewal of the world. They were among those ‘who hunger and thirst for justice’ (Mt 5:6). This hunger and thirst had spurred them on in their pilgrimage – they had become pilgrims in search of the justice they expected from God…The new King, to whom they now paid homage, was quite unlike what they were expecting. In this way they had to learn that God is not as we usually imagine him to be. This was where their inner journey began. It started at the very moment when they knelt down before this child and recognized him as the promised King. But they still had to assimilate these joyful gestures internally. They had to change their ideas about power, about God and about man, and in so doing, they also had to change themselves…They had to learn to give themselves – no lesser gift would be sufficient for this King. They had to learn that their lives must be conformed to this divine way of exercising power, to God’s own way of being. They must become men of truth, of justice, of goodness, of forgiveness, of mercy…They will have to ask: How can I serve God’s presence in the world? They must learn to lose their life and in this way to find it. Having left Jerusalem behind, they must not deviate from the path marked out by the true King, as they follow Jesus.”
On this day, let us be like the Magi, who after being in the presence of Jesus as a child, changed their lives, sought justice and mercy, and were ever transformed for the rest of their days. Let us also learn to be obedient to Jesus and His Catholic Church.
Now the pictures of my Magi and their journey…