The Gift of Magi
2000 years ago in what was the heartland of the world, a small group of eastern pilgrims (probably holy men) crossed the South Asian continent — travelling westward through Persia and the Parthian Empire toward ancient Palestine — to witness an historic revelation of God ..... the birth, and new life, of a young Jewish child: Jesus, son of Joseph. Anthropological and historical records of that time carry no mention of this journey — only the Gospel of Matthew in the Christian New Testament speaks of the visit of Magi from the east. And yet, this short passage of biblical narrative — of Bethlehem and of the Magi — provides us with a reflective "thoughtboard" for examining, and exploring, our willingness — and God's desire (?) — to accept all faith traditions as passageways toward understanding, and sharing, the religious experiences of one another .... recognizing that God connects to humanity through all peoples, regardless of their faith tradition.
Bruce Sanguin, a Canadian pastor and author of several books, writes:
The Magi notice "a star at its rising." The symbolism is important. Here we have wise people scouring the night skies, not for signs that they have the Truth, but for signs of the truth wherever truth might choose to show itself. They have the wisdom to realize that the Holy One is not restricted to revealing Herself to only their people. They've taken their heads out of their own Bibles long enough to gaze up and out at the source of our fundamental unity, rather than what divides us. The wise ones intuited what science has now confirmed, that the basis of the unity of all peoples is biospiritual.... They [the Magi] gaze up at the stars and realize that a very special human being is about to be born, a child who is meant to trascend cultures, transcend religious differences, and point us all in the direction of a compassionate Father, the love which fired it all into being .... This star points them in the direction of Israel. They make the journey to Bethlehem in order to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews.1
Whether or not the story of the Magi — and that of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem — accurately parallels history is less relevant, and important, than what the Magi experience represents, and says to us, today. Within this brief, sacred scriptural passage, we are presented with an example whereby the mystery of God's revelation (as demonstrated in the birth of Jesus) is given as an opportunity to experience one another — both in our humanity and in our shared "divine connectedness". The encounter with the Magi — an experience shared between parents and a group of strangers — becomes a moment of dialog, discovery, servitude, and compassion: an expression of love, respect, acceptance. Not only acceptance of one another, but also acceptance, and acknowledgement, of God's love for all humanity.
The celebration of birth is always a consummation of love. All new life — created in love — reminds us of the beauty of relationship, the joy of celebration, and the vulnerability of humanity (especially infancy) . For the young parents — Joseph and Mary — and for the Magi, the experience of Bethlehem celebrates the birth of a special, Beloved Child: a future 'King' .... a healer .... a caregiver ... a wisdom teacher .... a miracle maker .... a lover of all people. And for each one of us — imaged and mirrored along side this holy family — humanity celebrates the birth of a New Beginning: a life centered in God.
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