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"Sir, we wish to see Jesus" John 12:21
Birth with Magi   BIRTH WITH MAGI

Mathew reports that sometime after Jesus’ birth Magi came from the east to pay homage to him.  The Magi were the astrologers and astronomers of their day and they had seen some sign in the heavens (a new star or some planetary conjunction?) that indicated to them that a royal person, perhaps even a divine person, had been born in Judea.

They traveled to Jerusalem and inquired concerning the child in King Herod’s court, the logical place to find a King of the Jews.  Since no child had been born to Herod under the heavenly sign he and all of Jerusalem were troubled by the Magi’s inquiries.  Herod consulted his advisors who discovered in a prophetic text a citation that named Bethlehem as the place of the child’s birth.

The Magi set off to Bethlehem and did indeed find the child.  They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  While visiting they were warned in a dream not to return to Jerusalem to report the whereabouts of the child as Herod had requested.  When they finished their visit they returned home by another way.

Among Christians in the west the visit of the Magi is celebrated on January 6 the Feast of the Epiphany.  The word epiphany means to show forth or make manifest.   What was made manifest to the Magi was that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior.   What was made manifest by the Magi’s visit was that he is so for all the peoples of the earth, for they were Gentiles, not Jews. 

The gifts the Magi bring to Jesus also show forth our proper devotion to Him.  God had already offered the gift of Himself to the world in the person of His Son, Jesus.  The only adequate gift in response is a gift in kind, namely, the offering of our selves to God.  Customarily we speak of our selves in a tripartite fashion, body, soul, and spirit.  To give our selves wholly to God in devotion would require the gift of all three.  The Magi give them selves by giving three gifts – gold (the soul), frankincense (the spirit), and myrrh (the body).

((Painting by Bartolo Di Fredi)


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