We celebrated the great Feast of the Epiphany yesterday and with it looked to the Magi, the Wise Men, who in turn pointed us to Christ and revealed his nature in their gifts. Gold for kingship, frankincense for divinity and myrrh for embalming and death.
An epiphany, the Christ child is our divine king whose throne is the cross. But what of the Magi themselves? They were astronomers who followed a star, and some argue this was a supernova, a conjunction of planets or something else again, a miraculous event.
Perhaps it was all of these, but the Wise Men were more than astral calculators, they were wise, they looked for the truth and they found it, Incarnate, lying in a manger. So the Magi themselves are an epiphany. Pope Benedict XVI explains:
“They were “wise.” They represent the inner dynamic of religion toward self-transcendence, which involves a search for truth, a search for the true God and hence ‘philosophy’ in the original sense of the word. Wisdom, then, serves to purify the message of ‘science’: the rationality of that message does not remain at the level of intellectual knowledge, but seeks understanding in its fullness, and so raises reason to its loftiest possibilities.”
Loftiest possibilities? Heaven itself and the throne of glory, all to be found in the baby lying under a star in a manger.
O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.