Augustine of Hippo
Truth, by which the world is held together, has sprung from the earth, in order to be carried in a woman’s arms.
Augustine of Hippo
Though many kings of the Jews had been born and died, none of them did the Magi seek to adore. And so they who came from a distant foreign land to a kingdom that was entirely strange to them…But they had learnt that such a King was born that by adoring Him they might be sure of obtaining from Him the salvation which is of God.
Bernard of Clairvaux
What are you doing, O Magi? Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel, wrapped in miserable rags? Can this Child be truly God? … Are you become foolish, O Wise Men … Yes, these Wise Men have become fools that they may be wise.
John of Chrysostom
Note how fitting was the order of events: the wise men saw the star, were received by the Jews and their king; they heard prophecy to explain what had appeared; the angel instructed them; and then they journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the guidance of the star. From all this we learn that this was not an ordinary star, for no other star has this capacity to guide, not merely to move but to beckon, to go before them, drawing and guiding them along their way. The star remained after bringing them to the place, in order that the child might also be seen. For there is nothing conspicuous about the place. The inn was ordinary. The mother was not celebrated or notable. The star was needed to manifest and illumine the lowly place, until they had reached their destination at the manger.
The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 7:3
For by gold the power of a king is signified, by frankincense the honor of God, by myrrh the burial of the body; and accordingly they offer Him gold as King, frankincense as God, myrrh as Man.
If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged God.
may your light shine our way,
as once it guided the steps of the magi:
that we too may be led into your presence
and worship you,
the Child of Mary,
the Word of the Father,
the King of nations,
the Saviour of mankind;
to whom be glory for ever.
The whole life of Christ was a continual Passion; others die martyrs but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as his cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas day and his Good Friday are but the evening and morning of one and the same day. And as even his birth is his death, so every action and passage that manifests Christ to us is his birth, for Epiphany is manifestation.
The season of Epiphany is an invitation to follow Jesus into the ways of gratitude and joy,. We are no longer bound by the dissatisfaction of our consumer culture that tells us to keep striving for more stuff, more success, more money, more of everything for myself. Instead we are invited to learn to live in the joy and contentment of seeing every moment as a gift from God.
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter…
…All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.’
”Journey of the Magi”
The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.”
Matthew loved the magi. He gave their story more square inches of text than he gave the narrative of the birth of Jesus. He never mentions the shepherds or the manger, but he didn’t want us to miss the star and the seekers. It’s easy to see why. Their story is our story.
Lord God of Heaven and Earth, You revealed Your only-begotten Son to every nation by the light of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Allow us to find it a shelter of peace and health. Make our house a place of warmth and caring for all who visit us. Fill us with the light of Christ, that we might clearly see You in our work and play. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.