The Magi’s search for truth and meaning. MATTHEW 2:1–12
It is characteristic of the human heart to search, and to seek after the great mystery of God. Every heart ponders, though in different ways and to different degrees, the meaning and purpose of life. Our hearts long for truth. Only when truth is possessed does the heart find rest.
The journey of the Wise Men (the Magi) in today’s Gospel is in a real sense the journey of this search for truth and meaning. Everything in life has an end which fulfils its existence: all things must make a ‘journey’ towards fulfilment.
For example, a seed we could say exists to grow into a plant or a hammer exists for craftsmanship. When we think of a soul in such terms, we can say that a soul exists to find communion with God. And so, the soul’s journey is a journey towards union with the mystery of God.
When the Magi “saw the child with Mary his mother” (Matt 2:11) they found the ‘end’ for which they were made. They found the source of their perfection. (Note how Jesus is with Mary. Mary is intimately bound up with our soul’s journey.)
This ‘end’ of the journey of the Wise Men symbolises how every heart longs for this child in Mary’s arms whether they know it or not. To long for truth, for peace, for joy, for hope and love is to long for Jesus Christ the God-Man who is the fullness of love, truth and grace, and who is the only one who can bring true peace, joy and hope to our hearts. Only God satisfies the heart. Only God perfects and fulfils the human soul. He is our ‘end’.
The Church fathers have seen in the journey of the pagan Wise Men to the cradle of Christ as the vocation of all the nations to the Faith. God wants all people to make the journey to discover His manifestation of His invisible mystery in the visible mystery of Jesus Christ. This is the very foundation of the mystery of the Epiphany that we celebrate this Sunday.
It is explicitly expressed by the Church in the Collect or opening prayer of today’s Mass where our mother the Church sums up the desires of her children for the Mass: “O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy, that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
The Collect here reveals the virtue of faith as the key to entering into the beauty and glory of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Faith is the first step towards our journey’s end. The Collect draws inspiration no doubt from today’s Gospel.
The Wise Men follow the bright star which is an outward symbol of an interior reality of the grace of faith moving and guiding their hearts. In as much as the Wise Men searched for Christ, the reality is that Christ was drawing them to Him by His Divine Providence and by an interior illumination of faith in their souls.
The Wise Men are therefore an example to us all of docility of heart and fidelity to the inspiration of grace which brought them to their journey’s end. It is their faith that led them to discover the immense revelation of the beauty of God in the face of the child Jesus cradled in Mary’s arms.
Thus, it is faith that allows them to penetrate to the deepest meanings of the scene in Bethlehem. When they fell on their knees in adoration, which is something reserved only to God, we see the manifestation of their faith in Christ as God.
Let us pray, therefore, for an increase in the gift of faith so that we will be guided to He who is the fulfilment of all our desires, the perfecter of our souls.
The Gospel Meditations for January 6 and 13 are by Rev Jesse Maingot OP, a former St Anthony’s parishioner. He is currently studying for the priesthood at the Dominican Studium in Dublin, Ireland. He will be ordained a priest on August 17 at St Finbar’s Church.