Subtitle: A poetic reflection, based on Matthew 2.1-12, for the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.
Note: First posted on Monday, January 15, 2018 and, here, revised.
I wonder about the magi,
those sages who, from the East afar,
followed the star
then onward to Bethlehem.
I do not wonder about their number.
Scripture makes no mention,
saying only that they bore gifts three;
hence, by convention, tradition has assigned three.
(Though for all we know,
there may have been but two, four, or more.
Perhaps a score?)
Moreo’er, time o’er,
the three have been given names
Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
Yet this I do wonder:
What did they wonder?
After they beheld the grandeur of the babe in the manger?
After they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
After they began their journey home, as Matthew cites, by “another way”?
Did they talk among themselves?
Or did they fall silent, each to his own reverie,
their individual counsel keeping;
perhaps afraid to reveal what (that!) they were thinking,
about that baby?
Did they wonder:
How could they continue to serve the potentates of their home lands
as they had done in their time –
and their fathers had done before them
and their grandfathers had done before them
and their forebears of numberless generations afore –
now that they had beheld,
far greater than their meagre magic,
the mystery of the Sovereign Lord in human flesh?
And what of the tools of their trades?
How could they wield them?
Their sacred tomes,
their auguries, their prophecies,
their potions and prayers to their little gods of little glory,
and even that, now forever empty.
And what of themselves?
What could…what would they do?
They who had lost their once-thought ageless vocatio,
which, as the tide of time slipping through their fingers
no longer summoned them to employ their arts,
for they had knelt at the feet of the Ancient of Everlasting Days!
Today, I wonder what does anyone do, me, you, once we become blind to what we held true,
for we have beheld an epiphany of God’s glory?
© 2021 PRA
Illustration: Journey of the Magi, James Tissot (1836-1902)