How can the Magi of Matthew 2—the Three Wise Men "bearing gifts" and "traversing afar"—help us understand faith and reason, giving and receiving, the nature of God, and how to be human? Drew Collins offers some new perspective on a familiar Christmas story.
Drew Collins reflects on the Magi of Matthew Chapter 2. These wise men from the east come to pay Jesus homage, but in so doing, they offer for us an outside perspective on the wonder and the weirdness of Christmas. They’ve been lauded through centuries of Christian theology for both their reason and their faith, but W.H. Auden’s treatment of their intentions in his beautiful Christmas Oratorio, For the Time Being, brings into clearest brightest view why they followed the star, and offers us something to aspire to. Auden gives them the lines:
To discover how to be truthful now...
To discover how to be living now….
To discover how to be loving now...
To discover how to be human now …. Is the reason we follow this star.
And well, in that sense, we’re all magi. Trying to learn how to be human now.
"Matthew 2:1-12 asks us, in other words, to confront the possibility that those outside of our particular Christian communities might offer us new ways of understanding of who Jesus is, while at the same time revealing new insights into the identities of our non-Christian neighbors.”
"The Christian faith affirms that God is a gift giver. We can say more. For God’s giving is so radical, so total, that even in God’s receiving the gifts we bring, however paltry and imperfect, God is also giving. In receiving the gifts of the Magi, or in affirming our receiving of them on God’s behalf, God is giving us hope that our own lives, scruffy and flawed though they might be, might be received by others as giving, like the Magi, greater insight into who Jesus is and might be received and redeemed by God in the coming of God’s Kingdom.”