More visitors! First there were angels and shepherds, now strangers from distant lands: men on an expedition, seeking a new-born king. They have set out in faith, not knowing where the star will lead. After diversions here and there, not least Herod’s court in Jerusalem, they arrive in Bethlehem. Entering the stable they find Mary and Joseph with the Christ-child. Bowing low in adoration they present their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. Mission accomplished, they then return home.
St. Matthew in the account of the Epiphany makes clear right at the beginning of his Gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Chosen One, not only for the people of Israel, but for all nations, represented by these Magi, Wise Men, travelling from afar. Traditionally, the three gifts are seen as pointers, signs, of who this Jesus is: gold for kingship, incense for divinity, myrrh, one of the spices used in the ointment for burial: Jesus, God’s Son, the shepherd king who will give his life for all peoples and nations. As the Epiphany season unfolds, we shall hear other Gospel-pointers, signs, of who Jesus is: his Baptism, the Wedding at Cana, the Presentation in the Temple, the Transfiguration: God-with-us, revealing God-self active and present in the creation.
Are we ready, like the Wise Men, to seek out God’s presence amongst us today? What are the signs, the pointers, in and around us? What are the gifts we will bring? If we are the Body of Christ, what signs, pointers, are visible in and through us to others who are seeking and searching?
Let us rejoice with the Wise Men, and come before the Lord in wonder, love and praise.