ìWe saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.î (Matthew 2:2)
One of the most interesting things about the brief account of the visit of the Magi in the Gospel of Matthew is what is not included. For instance, we arenít told where the visitors came from, how many there were or anything about their backgrounds.
Legend has it that they were kings and that there were three (because of the three gifts), but that is all historical embellishment. Matthew didnít seem to think such details were important.
But he did think other things were important, such as the fact that these travelers were seekers of truth and were willing to go to great lengths to find it.
Another major point is that, while the Magi were prominent enough to receive an audience with King Herod, they werenít caught up in the trappings of wealth and influence. When they eventually did find the Christ-child, they saw past his humble surroundings to honor him for who he was.
Sponsors during the September 2010 Kenya/Uganda mission awareness trip attend a parade led by the Shangilia childrenís band. The sponsors are wearing the traditional Masai regalia.
And, while Matthew doesnít share exactly what land the visitors came from, he does emphasize that they were foreigners.
Perhaps he deliberately left out any reference to a particular country because he wanted them to represent all nations and peoples, but one thing is certain ñ the Gospel writer wants us to know that these foreign gentiles were among the first to recognize the Messiah.
So, while we may not know a lot about the Magi, what we do know is profound. They are defined not by kingly trappings and power, nor even by gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In the end, the Magi matter because they hungered for God and were willing to face any obstacle in order to know him. They truly were îWise Menî (if, indeed, they were men!) and they set an example that holy pilgrims have followed for more than 2,000 years.
The CFCA community has our own holy pilgrims. Each year, more than 700 people, most of them CFCA sponsors, travel from the U.S. to visit our projects in the 23 countries where we work.
Like the Magi, they too are seekers. And, like the Magi, they find life-changing truth in the humblest of surroundings.
In spending time with sponsored friends and in witnessing firsthand the work of our project staff to help families and communities lift themselves out of oppressive poverty through CFCAís Hope for a Family program, these travelers behold the same wonder that the visitors from the east beheld 2,000 years ago ñ God truly dwells among and within the poor of this world!
It is good news that begs to be shared wherever people yearn for a star worth following.
- Read the first Advent reflection: Discover Christ in your daily life
- Read the second Advent reflection: Dare to dream of a better world
- Read the third Advent reflection: Invest in the gift of joyful anticipation
- Read the fourth Advent reflection: Embrace the humanity that led to our salvation
- Read the fifth Advent reflection: Share the good news of holy families