To be honest, we really know very little historical information about the three Wise Men. Most of the popular ideas about them came from stories and paintings from much earlier generations. Some recent vivid and joyful images come from the Glan Carlo Menotti operetta, “Amahl and the Night Visitor.”
Our images of Mary and Jesus also need refreshment from time to time. Before he was elected Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said, “The images of Christ and the saints are not photographs. Their whole point is to lead us beyond what we can be apprehended at the merely material level, to awaken new senses in us, and to teach us a new kind of seeing, which perceives the Invisible in the visible.”
These are indeed wise words. In today’s world, religious images don’t just hang on museum walls, but fly around from comic books to newspapers, on videos from YouTube, Facebook, on late night television, or passed around on people’s BlackBerries and cell phones. We may not like these images, but we can’t live in a fortress, trying to avoid them. We urgently have to develop what Pope Benedict XV called “a new kind of seeing,” going behind the visible to the Invisible, so that we can grab the good and helpful meanings, and leave behind whatever is vulgar, destructive, or simply stupid.
Like us, the Jews of Jesus’ time had difficulty looking beyond the visible, to the Invisible: God lies here in the flesh! Christ has finally appeared as the salvation of the whole creation! The Magi symbolize those of us who have eyes to see, who rush to offer our gifts with humility. As the bumper sticker says, “Wise men and women still seek him.”
May you have a good week, and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the shepherds are back from their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins: To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoners,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among sisters and brothers,
To make music with the heart.”
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish