Visit by the Magi

© Mariia Savoskula |

Epiphany (meaning ‘a showing’) is the season where our readings invite reflection on the visit to the child Jesus in Bethlehem by the Magi, or ’wise men’ as they are often called (Matthew 2: 1-12). These men – nowhere does Mathew count them as ‘three’ – were scholars and astrologers from the East, probably Persia or Arabia, who’d have set out in a long caravan across the desert a couple of years earlier when they’d noted the rising of an unusual star that they interpreted as signaling the birth of a great Jewish King. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are significant.  The Book of Isaiah, when describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, tells of
nations and kings who will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall
proclaim the praise of the Lord”.  In addition to the honor and status
implied by these gifts, scholars think that they were chosen for their
spiritual symbolism about Jesus: gold representing his kingship,
frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his
sacrificial death.

-Philip Muston

Comments are closed.