The Magi started off on their journey, having seen the star rising. It must have been an exceptional star, as we are told that when they saw it, "they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy". Theirs was a journey of faith. They set out steadfastly, keeping their eyes fixed upon the star and their faith was rewarded with the sight of the newborn king. Technically, they are not usually seen as guides for Advent, as they began their journey after the birth of Jesus, because the Gospel tells us that the star arose after His birth. But, as we are now doing, they made a journey to see and worship the baby Jesus, and they succeeded! So, we can learn a lot from them.
"We have come to worship him"
(Mt.2:2) are the words, which the Magi spoke to King Herod when they arrived in Jerusalem. I have taken that as my mantra for this season of Advent, and have personalised it at Adoration, by saying, "We have come to worship You". It is what our Christian life is all about, and it is the goal of our journey to Christmas. The fact that it is in the plural, reminds us that when we come to worship, we are never alone. In this prayer, we kneel before the Lord, taking with us all those we carry in our hearts and all of the world.
The Holy Father has said, "this is a theme that enables (young) people… to follow in spirit the path taken by the Magi". (emphasis added) In other words, these words of Scripture have a power of their own. So, not only is it stating the intention of those who utter it, it also enables us, to make this statement a reality. This is because the Word of God is "alive and active", and has a life and power of its own. In stating our intention to come and worship Him, we are at the same time asking for the grace to do this as is fitting for the King of Kings. This is a grace that none of us can merit, but the Lord will not refuse those who ask in humility. If, at Christmas, when we see Our Lady holding the child Jesus out to us, we can say from the depths of hearts, "We have come to worship Him", our preparation for the celebration of Christmas, will have been fruitful, for ourselves and the World.
Pope John Paul II took the Gospel relating to the visit of the three Wise Men and explained it in the light of the journey he wishes the young people to make, in the spirit of the Magi. Reading it, his programme could just as easily be one for the journey of Advent.
Let us reflect on some excerpts from it as food for our journey to Christmas:
"It is true to say that the light of Christ had already opened the minds and the hearts of the Magi. "They went their way"
(Mt 2:9), says the Evangelist, setting out boldly along unknown paths on a long, and by no means easy, journey. They did not hesitate to leave everything behind in order to follow the star that they had seen in the East".
"The Magi reached Bethlehem because they had obediently allowed themselves to be guided by the star. It is important, my dear friends, to learn to observe the signs with which God is calling us and guiding us. When we are conscious of being led by him, our heart experiences authentic and deep joy as well as a powerful desire to meet him and a persevering strength to follow him obediently".
"Opening their treasures they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh"
(Mt 2:11). The gifts that the Magi offered the Messiah symbolised true worship. With gold, they emphasised his royal Godhead; with incense they acknowledged him as the priest of the New Covenant; by offering him myrrh, they celebrated the prophet who would shed his own blood to reconcile mankind with the Father. My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow him out of love, responding faithfully to his call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in praise of his glory; offer him your myrrh, that is, your affection of total gratitude to him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha".
"And they departed to their own country by another way"
(Mt2:12). The Gospel tells us that after their meeting with Christ, the Magi returned home "by another way". This change of route can symbolize the conversion to which all those who encounter Jesus are called, in order to become the true worshippers that he desires (cf. Jn 4:23-24). This entails imitating the way he acted by becoming, as the apostle Paul writes, "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God". The apostle then adds that we must not be conformed to the mentality of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, to
"prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect"
(cf. Rm 12 1-2)".
"Listening to Christ and worshipping him leads us to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is demanding, because he wishes our genuine happiness. He calls some to give up everything to follow him in the priestly or consecrated life. Those who hear this invitation must not be afraid to say "yes" and to generously set about following him as his disciples".
"Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew mankind".
"Worship Christ: He is the Rock on which to build your future and a world of greater justice and solidarity. Jesus is the Prince of peace: the source of forgiveness and reconciliation, who can make brothers and sisters of all the members of the human family".