In Matthew’s telling of the story he frames it with Isaiah’s prophecy in mind, that peoples from other lands would come with gold and frankincense singing the praises of the Lord. While the religious leaders would refuse to recognize the Christ, and Herod would seek to kill him, the foreigners, the Gentiles would worship him and bring him gifts. Herod’s jealousy and fear of loss of power blinded him from being able to accept the birth of the long awaited savior and lead him to the monstrous crime of the slaughter of the innocents.
But let us dwell for a while on the visit of the magi and the wonder of their journey… led by only a star that shown brightly in the deepest of the night sky. It is a time of wonder and awe…a time to allow ourselves to enter the story and reflect on our own journey…our spiritual journey. For the magi the signs were in the heavens…a star that led them to Bethlehem, to a shabby little stable…where our God came among us as one of us. Perhaps the Magi’s real wisdom was that they knew that they didn’t know everything… they valued learning, they looked for signs, they paid attention to dreams…they expected God to talk to them… they believed that they encountered God in their daily lives. Ultimately the story of the Magi is a story of encounter, an encounter of the greatest kind…an encounter with God.
Am I open to “following a star”…to paying attention to the signs of God’s presence in my life? Where do I encounter God in the ordinary routine of my daily life? The Magi came bearing gifts…what gift of self might I offer to God? Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!