When I was a little girl I used to wonder what the words “traverse afar” meant. Every year we would sing that Christmas carol, “We Three Kings” about these wise men who followed a star. Where’d they come from, how far was it, why did they make this long journey? Of course, over the years I learned that these men were not just some guys out for a camel ride, but indeed learned men, educated and no doubt of some material wealth in order to make such a journey!
Somewhere I read that Scripture scholars believe it took them many months to prepare for the trip, let alone the actual journey. In fact, most scholars believe they didn’t arrive until about two years after Christ’s birth. In the second chapter of Matthew we read that “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, 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.” So they must have known about the prophecy and were paying attention to the skies, watching diligently for the star.
And when they found Jesus in the house, the young child with Mary his mother, they fell down and worshipped him…and presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, as told by Matthew in that same chapter. I can only imagine how happy they were to have made the journey, to have found the Child, and to somehow have known that their deep faith had led them to the Lord of Love and Light. The gifts also have meaning, but that is a story for another day.
Our life is also that same journey; one of seeking meaning and purpose, looking for the LIGHT of the World. Like the Magi, if we are attentive, open, alert, and listening to God speaking to us, we too can encounter the living Jesus each day. Sometimes we might lose sight of the Star and find ourselves in a bit of darkness. Maybe clarity disappears and we begin to doubt. But the quest of the Magi can help us remember that Emmanuel—God with us—is truly present today just as he was in the manger in Bethlehem.
My thinking about the Magi has come a long way from that little girl’s thoughts. I know that by being open to God one finds meaning in life. I know that Love is the “why” of any journey, no matter how far we traverse! I believe that keeping our gaze on THE STAR, using our own little light for good, we will experience the wonder sung about in the carol: “O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect Light.”
Barbara McMullen, CDP