The Magi Knew Something Was Missing

User's Guide to Sunday, Jan. 4

Sunday, Jan. 4, is the Epiphany of the Lord (Year B) in the United States (and the Second Sunday of Christmas elsewhere).


Mass Readings

Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12


Our Take

Why were the Magi interested in Jesus? They were looking for something transcendent — something they could not find in their lives.

They were extremely knowledgeable men. They knew the science of the stars; they knew politics and geography. They knew what the stars should look like, and when something was amiss — the novelty of the Christmas star — they wanted to find out why.

Why would these men go so far to see Jesus? They explain why in their own words: He was “the newborn King of the Jews,” and they had “come to do him homage.”

In other words, they knew it was Jesus Christ they were missing.

The Gospel passage answers the question further. The Wise Men knew the way to find him was through the star — the indicator the world gave. Ironically, the Magi knew they were on the right path precisely because Herod, the evil king, was so anxious to know what they found.

But, ultimately, what convinced the Magi was that they saw the Child with their own eyes.

It wasn’t just the stars, politics and geography that pointed to Christ. Something about this mother, this carpenter and this baby convinced them — the Holy Family attested to the divine truth.

So they prostrated themselves before Baby Jesus and placed expensive, mysterious gifts before him, gifts that could easily represent the material life (gold), the spiritual life (incense) and the afterlife (myrrh, which is used to prepare the dead).

They found the Christ Child and recognized him as the King of the Jews — and also as the center of their lives today, tomorrow and hereafter.

We each have the same journey to make.

Without Christ, we, too, have something missing in our lives.

We, too, can read the signs of the secular world — the need for love and hope that Jesus brings.

We, too, can see the negative attention the world pays to Jesus, just like Herod did.

We also have to listen to the Church, which tells us where to find Jesus.

When we spend time with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we see for ourselves how credible the Christmas story truly is.

The Christmas season is a perfect time to take this journey to the altar, where the Baby Jesus quietly proclaims with his presence that love — divine love — is the thing we all need most.

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,

where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.