Updated: Dec 30, 2022
January 1, 2023
Read Matthew 2:1-12
Reflections on the Magi for New Year’s Day
Like so many of the stories of the Nativity, the story of the Magi challenges me when I consider it in its details… Though the Magi were Gentiles and I am a Gentile living 2000 years later, it’s still hard to compare their life journey with mine… And yet, with the start of this New Year, I feel challenged to weigh my life with theirs and wonder:
I wonder what it must have been like for these Magi to watch the stars for years, to seek out prophesies, and generally to do all in their power to find out more about the King of Kings. It certainly challenges me to ask – how much of my life is spent seeking and studying more about Christ, learning more his work on this earth, looking out there for inspiring work in His name? What efforts do I make to seek out signs of the Divine?
I wonder what it was like for the Magi to leave everything behind for this journey that lasted more than two years – to leave behind all their existing projects and plans, their families and community, even their daily comforts or routines. It certainly challenges me to ask – how much am I willing to leave behind to seek out Jesus or follow him? Again, what effort am I willing to make?
I wonder what the Magi must have felt on this two-year journey and its discomforts and hardships, its waiting and wandering, with strange companions they encountered on the way. Despite their differences in culture, language or even creed, encountering these companions must have been encouraging in that they all shared the same somewhat crazy mission. It was clear that all of these Magi felt extremely strongly about their direction and purpose. It certainly challenges me to ask – what’s my direction and purpose? What’s my North star? Is it really Jesus? Or is it the next vacation, home reno or job promotion? What hardships and discomforts, waiting and wondering am I willing to endure on the journey to know Christ better? And who are those companions on my journey who also share the same star with me? Who may be different from me in language, culture or creed? Who encourage me, who lighten my step or prop me up when I falter?
When they reach Jerusalem, the Magi encounter a fearful and deceitful Herod, representative of this world and its desire for power and fame. And members of the Sanhedrin, who know all about the prophesies about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and can see the star leading that is leading the Magi there with their own eyes… but who are complete indifferent, uninterested, not willing join the Magi on their quest. I am challenged to ask – do I in any way resemble these characters? How am I driven by desires of this world? Or how am I indifferent to Jesus in the world, uninterested in seeking him further?
And when they reach Jesus, the Magi fall down and worship him, even though he is clearly a child, without any obvious of riches, or glory or power. I am challenged to ask – can I discern Jesus in the frail, the weak, the ones without power, glory or riches? The vulnerable ones, the fragile ones, even the unpleasant ones?
The Magi clearly experienced great joy in worshiping Jesus. What is my response in the presence of Jesus – is it to worship? And what’s my worship like – is it joyful? Or do I rather approach Jesus to dump all my problems and concerns on Him? Or to ask Him, as magic genie, to grant my petitions and requests? How might I come to Jesus with greater joy, with more joy-filled worship?
And as we well know, the Magi came prepared with gifts – “they opened their treasures” and they gave Jesus very meaningful and useful gifts. I am challenged to ask: how prepared am I for Jesus? Or for encounters with Him? How do I “open up my treasures” for Jesus? Or how eager am I to “open up my treasures” to others? What gifts do I have? What plans do I have for opening my treasures to Jesus in 2023? Or daily?
On their way back, the Magi are asked to return to their homelands by a different route. I imagine it might have been a difficult change of plans given their already long journey. Again, I am challenged to wonder: how do I react to a change of plans or unfamiliar settings? Do I let the Holy Spirit direct or re-route my path? Or do I resist change to the unknown or to my routine?
Finally, I am challenged to ponder: was it all worth it for the Magi? Leaving their lives behind for this four year trip in unfamiliar terrain? Were they doubtful or confused about this young child born among animals in a manger? Or was their faith strengthened by their journey, their worship and gift-giving? They had encountered Jesus; they encountered God incarnate. How did that encounter change the Magis’ life? And how does it change mine?
Written by Madelaine Hron