After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Here ends the Scripture reading.
The theologian Soren Kierkgaard wrote a reflection on the fact that this story shows a bit of the reality behind the event. He writes:
“ Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved heaven and earth leaves us completely unmoved. What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?
What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem! We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain still. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.”
When we take a look at our contemporary experience of life and of the Gospel stories, we should also be moved. Moved to live wisely, act justly, and walk humbly. After all, it is the way we live that matters. May our lives be a living testimony to the One who lived and died for us, who comes again and will yet come again, even Him who is the Christ.
Possible discussion questions in three levels: Informational, Analytical, Personalized:
How many Magi were there?
To Whom did they report when they arrived in Jerusalem?
Where did they find the child?
Did they report back?
Why do you suppose they sought out this child?
In your opinion, does Astrology and other esoteric studies also lead you to faith?
Why do you suppose the Magi were warned to go home by a different route?
Do you think their lives were chagned when they returned home?
Have you ever been on a journey to discover something of worth?
Have you experienced dreams so vivid you have felt an understandable instruction?
If you had been with the Magi, where would you return to and how would your life be changed?
What can you do today that would increase your life of faith?