The Real Wisdom Around ‘The Wise Men’

Fresco in Cappadocia

Fresco in Cappadocia

The second Sunday after Christmas is Epiphany (“revealing”) marking The Adoration of the Magi – or “Wise Men.” The so called “Three Kings” enter the story of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 2. There is a lot more going on here than meets the eye (or the ear, when we sing that really annoying song!)

The Magi need to be seen as prototypical Seekers! As Matthew commentator Dale Bruner points out, these Gentiles were drawn by the Star (natural revelation), which led them to the Scriptures (special revelation), which THEN led them to the Savior (God’s final and complete revelation).

Benedict XVI recently wrote a small book on the Infancy Narratives of Christ that includes the importance of this story in the Big Story of God.  This quote is from the blog of First Things.

The Magi—the Wise Men, the Three Kings—are crucial figures in salvation history, for they were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah promised to the people of Israel, through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed. That’s not a new insight, of course; what is striking in Benedict’s interpretation of their story is his expansion of the meaning of the Magi’s journey. The “Wise Men from the east,” he writes, “mark a ‘new beginning.’” In them, we find “the journeying of humanity toward Christ.”

Thus these Three Kings “initiate a procession that continues throughout history.” Moreover, they represent more than those who have actually found the Lord: “they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason” toward Christ. The Magi embody the truth of which Paul wrote in one of his great Christological hymns: “all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

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