Matthew gospel tells us magi came from the east seeking to give homage to the “King of the Jews.” Have you noticed, Matthew does not tell us that there were three magi, he only says magi came? The truth is we have no way of knowing how many magi made that journey from the east to give homage to Jesus. What we do know is the Church has always taken the position that the story of the magi flows from Isiah’s prophecy found in chapter 60 verses 1 to 6 and the from words found in Psalm 72 verses 9 -11. It is interesting that Isiah mentions two gifts while Matthew has them presenting three gifts.
How many magi was there that night or what their names were is really not an issue for us in order to believe they made the journey to give homage. It makes for interesting nativity scenes and pageants but it should not be a point of contention or used to say the scriptures are not the unerring word of God.
What is important for us in this story of the magi is what God is trying to teach us through the images and the story. If you want to take the time to get more background on these three magi google the Feast of Epiphany and read away. I would much rather talk to you about their Epiphany and ours. We all know that when we talk about an epiphany we are talking about an encounter with God, a realization of the truth of our relationship with God and a powerful understanding of God’s love and forgiveness.
We do believe that the three magi were possibly from a sect of Jewish priests who studied the stars. This means that they were aware that the light of the star would lead them to the one Isaiah prophesied about. They would have not only known the prophecy but they would have been constantly watching for the star’s appearance. When it did appear they responded immediately. They knew they would see the King of the Jews and they were willing to endure whatever it took to get to the place where he was. What impact did their encounter with Jesus have on them? We do not know but I am going to guess it was as profound as anyone who has encountered Jesus throughout the ages.
An epiphany type encounter with Christ must happen for us to move from a belief that is based on faith to a faith that is based on experience of the risen Christ. That kind of encounter leaves no doubt as to the reality of who he is or why he came. In one sense all of us are following that star which lights our way to the person of Jesus. This should not be a feast day that leaves us with warm and fuzzy feelings about the Christ Child or the three kings. It is a feast day that reminds us of how much we need to believe the words of scriptures and of the Church that point us to Christ. If we believe and we do then we must seek to have our own epiphany.
Today the scriptures challenge us to consider what are following and where are we going.
Is our faith founded on what we have been taught and have believed over the entirety of our lives or is it based on that “ah ha” moment when we encountered the risen Lord? The wise men were no different than us for their faith was in the scriptures that foretold of the coming of the messiah. Our faith is based on those same scriptures but with the addition of the New Testament. We know what they did not know. We know he came and we know he died for the forgiveness of all our sins. Our faith is founded on the promises of God given to us in the Scriptures that promises us eternal life if we believe. Our faith must at some point change from belief to experience just as the magi’s did. God promises us we all will have our epiphany moment when we acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Phi. 2:9-11).
My experience tells me that this mystical moment where we encounter God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit is to be the normal experience of all believers.
Today I invite you to begin your own journey into the very heart of God. It begins with a simple prayer – inviting God into our hearts. It begins with a desire to go and give him homage – not to say a prayer but to stand before Him with a sincere unadulterated desire to give God thanks for providing for us so humble a savior. It begins with us acknowledging all we believe about Christ is true and we come before him to him to thank him and praise him.
Come Lord Jesus – Come and be born in my heart.