WISE MEN AND CHRISTMAS
"Wise Men came with the treasures of earth in their hands . . . and left with the Treasure of Heaven in their hearts."
The New Testament presents two contrasting sets of visitors to the newborn Jesus. The Gospel of St. Luke recounts the story of humble shepherds drawn by heavenly choirs from their hillside encampment to worship at the simple stable on the night of Christ's birth.
The Gospel of St. Matthew, on the other hand, tells of wealthy and influential wise men from the east led by a new star to the court of King Herod and from there to the house where the Holy Family was staying. Theirs is a wonderful message of persistence and generosity.
These wise men were crucial to the miraculous preservation of the young and vulnerable Jesus in at least two significant ways. The first is readily apparent. Hearkening to inspired dreams, they disobeyed Herod by not telling him where Jesus could be found. Instead, they avoided Jerusalem and "departed into their own country another way."
The second is less obvious. Matthew records that upon the wise men's departure, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt and to remain there until Herod's death. The young family hurriedly left Bethlehem under cover of darkness. Thus Jesus escaped Herod's "Slaughter of the Innocents."
But how did the family not starve to death during their travels? How could they have survived so many years of exile in Egypt? Having no connections, not speaking the language, and presumably trying to stay "under the radar" to avoid notice, Joseph probably could not have found meaningful employment there.
The answer, by my estimation, is that the family was sustained by the proceeds of the sale of the wise men's gifts. Their costly offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh may have provided the financial means by which Jesus Christ and his family were able to escape Herod's murderous intentions and then live anonymously in Egypt until Herod died.
These wise men, their generosity, and their obedience to divine revelation were essential to the Christ Child's survival. I rejoice that even today wise men and women still seek Him. They continue to listen to the inspired whisperings of their hearts, and they use their means and their influence to protect families, save lives, and promote peace. My wish is that we all may do likewise, both during the Christmas season and throughout the year.
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Best Wishes for Christmas and the holiday season, and for a prosperous New Year. I look forward to sharing future Wednesday Wisdom articles with you in January.