Epiphany (C) 2109

Among Scriptural scholars, controversy surrounds the historicity of the Magi.
Magi were wise men/ astrologers/ diviners/ Zoroastrians/ members of a priestly caste in Persia/ astronomers/ scholars etc. who dwelled in areas east of Palestine – Iraq, Iran. The area where writing was invented.
We do not need to go into whether they’re coming to Bethlehem seeking ‘the new born king of the Jews’ actually happened as described or not, no more than we need to go into the name of the hill from which Jesus spoke the Beatitudes or if he actually spoke from a hill.
The Bible is not about seeking out historical facts or locations but about seeking out the message intended.
The first message the visit of the Mage conveys is that Jesus of Nazareth; the Redeemer, the Saviour, was Redeemer and Saviour not just for the Israelites but for all peoples, nations and ethnic groups.
They symbolise us – all peoples from all backgrounds.
Where do they find this newborn ‘King of the Jews?’
Naturally they went first to the king’s palace. King Herod was unhappy with the news they brought. Rivals to his crown were unwelcome.
Eventually they found him in a cattle pen, lying on an armful of straw, being cared for by his parents – a humble working man and his wife.
You can imagine that after travelling this long journey in high expectation their surprise was great.
Why they didn’t turn around and depart immediately in great disappointment is beyond my understanding. Obviously they had ‘been had.’ Imagine the amusement among their peers when they arrived back home. Without doubt the bad news would have preceded them.
But they didn’t.
We are told ‘they prostrated themselves and did him homage.’
What wisdom was required to act in this way !
What humility was required to act in this way !
The second message from today’s Gospel is that God’s ways are not our ways – the ways of the world. Kings are born in palaces not in stables.
From the first moment of his birth God chose the life of the poor, the oppresses, the needy. He ended his life in solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, the needy. There is certainly a message here for me, a message that I tend to ignore.