How often in our own lives are we called upon to venture out into the unknown and trust a presence in the heavens to guide us on our way? How often are we rewarded at the end of our task by a personal meeting with Jesus, the King of Kings?
I think the famous journey of the wise men is a microcosm of the purpose of any of our lives. Each of us is called upon to embark on our life's journey with no road map, no trip tick, and no cross country flight times. If we are fortunate, we either have been raised to or discover on our own the useful tool of literally and spiritually looking up to the heavens for guidance. The Wise Men knew that.
|Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy|
"Keep your eye on the prize," they say. But, it seems to me that the Wise Men, initially, didn't. Remember when they used their own earthly intellect and stopped (ultimately unwisely) at the palace of King Herod to ask directions, assuming that the newborn king whom the star's appearance signified surely must reside there? They noted that they "saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage," (Matthew 2:2).
Whoa. Big mistake there, fellas.
I don't think the star obviously was atop the palace in the night sky that evening, or the Wise Men would have referenced that instead, as opposed to having last seen the star at its rising. And when they realized their mistake and that it was time to go, well lo and behold, guess what appeared in the night sky outside!?
"After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star." (Matthew 2:9-10)
So, let that be a lesson unto each of us. When journeying to Destinations Unknown In Life, keep your eye on the star, the heavens, your guide, the Infant Christ, the Creator of it all, Him, the One.
"....the Savior...who is Messiah and Lord!" (Luke 2:11)
First, an entire site dedicated to the Magi:
The Original Christmas Gift
Next, the Magi from the perspective of art history, by Carolyn McDowall over at The Culture Concept Circle:
3 Wise Men Or 3 Kings - Celebrities Having An Epiphany
And then, several brief thoughts on Epiphany, courtesy of Dr. Taylor Marshall over at "Canterbury Tales":
The Adoration of the Magi Proves the Divinity of Christ
Ephiphany Debate: St. Augustine vs. the Donatists
Does the Word Epiphany Appear in the Bible?
The Three Magi Were Likely Arabs, and Why Is One of the Magi Dark-Skinned?
The Mummies of the Three Wise Men
Epiphany House Blessing
Many churches distribute blessed chalk with which to bless your home at Epiphany, or you can ask your parish priest to bless your own chalk. Families inscribe the following above or on their door inside the house:
The translation is the present year, around the initial of each of the three kings (Caspar, Melchoir, Balthazar). The "CMB" also represents the Latin, "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" or "Christ Bless This Home." Here is a blessing you can use for both your chalk and your house on Ephiphany:
Blessing of Chalk
Let us pray. O Lord God, bless this creature chalk to make it helpful to man. Grant that we who use it with faith and inscribe with it upon the entrance of our homes may enjoy physical health and spiritual protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In our house, we also like to cut out the front of the first Christmas card we receive, which bears a likeness of the three kings. We tape the card to the upper left corner of our front door inside. Thus placed, each time we open the door, it reminds us to open the door and welcome whomever is out there as we would welcome the three kings.
If you'd like a good read on this with your children, try Tomie DePaola's The Legend of Old Befana. Enjoy!