The Return of the Magi

"And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country." - Matthew 2:12

The Magi stayed with our Lord and His Mother; as Saint John says of the first disciples who met Him, "They came, and saw, and abode with Him all that day." It would be well for us if we could fathom something of the revelation that was then given to them, something of the meaning in their words when, with the disciples they could say: "We have found the Lord." They saw His glory and His power; had He not commanded the stars, and made them act as guides to these His worshipers? Had He not commanded their own hearts, and guided them aright in their reaching of these wonders? They saw His faithfulness. Whatever origin is to be given to this knowledge of the Magi, it must at least be said that they were inheritors of a long tradition. They had not the accumulated possession of the Jews; but long before the Jews were chosen and set apart from the rest of mankind the promise had begun to be made. Adam was not a Jew; Noe was not a Jew; Melchisedech was not a Jew; Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses had faithful kinsfolk who were not Jews; and it would have been strange if among all their descendants the record of the promise had perished. God had been faithful, not to the Jew only, but to all the world besides.

If thoughts such as these must have reigned in the hearts of the Magi, no less deep must have been the thoughts of Mary as she watched these strangers falling down and adoring. "Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." Already her prophecy was being fulfilled. A light for the revelation of the nations"; already the words of Simeon were coming true. Again God had shown His illuminating power; first to the shepherds on the hill, then to Simeon and Anna, and now to these strangers in a foreign land. And like them, these men had obeyed. Though their light had been less they had followed; though the labour to be taken had been greater they had undertaken it; though the prospect of reward was all but nothing they had not hesitated. "Amen, I say to you; I have not found so great faith in Israel," said our Lord later of a pagan centurion; and we can fancy Our Lady saying the same as she looked down upon and blessed these Gentile Magi.

The end of their visit came and they must tear themselves away. Whither did they go? We do not know. What became of them? We do not know. We have a tradition, but only a tradition; we really know nothing. Out of the darkness they came, into the darkness they returned; no more Jews than before, though they possessed in their hearts the treasure of treasures. And if Anna went away and "spoke of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel"; if of the shepherds it is said that "all they that heard wondered, and at those things that were told them"; then we may be sure that the same may be said of the Magi. They were the first apostles. Somewhere outside the Holy Land Christ was made known, somewhere the good tidings was spread, though the world knows nothing of it now. But how little do we know of the working of the Holy Ghost, above all outside the Church!

- from The Prince of Peace: Meditations, by Archbishop Alban Goodier, SJ. It has the Nihil Obstat of F. Thome Bergh, O.S.B., Censor Deputatus, and the Imprimatur of Canon Edmund Surmont, Vicar General, Diocese of Westminster, England, 16 November 1915