“We Three Kings” is one of the most popular Christmas Carols. The Three Wise Men, are also known in the Gospel of Matthew as the Magi. Doesn’t say that there were three. Three is a nice number, besides, three balances out the three shepherds on the other side of the Nativity scene. By the way, the Bible doesn’t say that there were three shepherds either, just shepherds in the field.
Oral tradition, legends, writings have given the Magi the names of Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Could have been more than three or less than three, that’s not important. What is important is that they came from lands far away, from different cultures, different religion. They traveled a great distance, at great expense to follow a star, of which they were convinced would lead them to a newborn king. Although, historically the Church was of the wrong opinion with Galileo, and although we do not promote looking at horoscopes, we cannot deny that the Magi were astrologers who obviously found Jesus because they followed a star. We can draw all sorts of conclusions from the Feast of Epiphany, but only one matters: The Feast of Epiphany is definitely one of inclusion. In a world surrounded by paranoia, the thought of inclusion is repulsive to many. The Internet offers more information with theories about whether or not one of the Magi might have been a black man. Well, they were certainly not blond with blue eyes. Who knows what language they might have had in common with the Holy Family. Obviously the language of love dominated as they offered their gifts. The Magi were not poor, nor without influence because otherwise King Herod would not have paid attention to them. Hundreds of slaves, camels, supplies moved with them to reach their destination.
Perhaps another reason that their title is often changed from Magi to Wise Men or Three Kings is because we do not know what to think about stargazers. The word Magi sounds too much like magic. They were different and they didn’t give up and they form part of our collective history with all the folks who are different from us, and yet believe in One God or believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ. More blood has been shed in the name of religion than for any other cause. The Magi came, not to make war but to show reverence.
Circle the wagons was the first thing that the settlers did when they were attacked. Today we build walls, increase patrols, try to block emigration from certain parts of the world. Guess that government officials are doing the best they can. Our world situation has changed in 2000 years. However, there are still some constants. For example, the language of love is still the international communicator that can be trusted. The language of Faith in God is still a basic human need—to recognize that the Creator is bigger than everything that we are—a merciful God full of compassion—even when we fail. The language of respect will transcend all cultural barriers. Regardless of where we travel, if we treat others with respect, we will be welcomed. Travel is indeed the best education that we will ever receive. No book can describe the reality of actually witnessing a land, a people, a culture that is different. That’s why the Magi traveled. They were unwilling to have someone tell them about the New Born King. They had to see for themselves. The same determination should be ours in our love for the Lord. We want to meet Him, to know Him more, to fall in love with Him over and over.
We bring the meager gift of our self. We offer our life, our brokenness, and dreams. In exchange the Lord gives us the Eucharist—the gift of eternal life.