The Magi Change Their Minds
“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the Wise Men
departed for their country by another way.”
Matthew 2:12 ~
The Magi, setting out in search of the newborn King of the Jews, embark on a path that is unknown to them. They simply “followed a star rising in the east,” trusting that it would lead them to that which they were seeking. This was enough for them. In addition to the star which inspired them, part of their journey required having to ask for directions when they lost their way upon arriving in Jerusalem. Their goal could not be achieved without assistance at some point, and this is the same way God wishes to deal with us, giving us assistance through the church, the scriptures, a well-formed conscience and the experiences of daily life. From the Magi we also learn that in our own life’s journey God will guide us, though the way forward can often seem unknown or even threatening to us.
Still we keep going, trusting that God will guide us. God will often lead us just one step or inspiration at a time. If we cannot see the far goal, we can always put one foot in front of another and allow God to lead us on our journey through the simple daily inspirations and duties of the present moment, the very place where we encounter the Lord.
The Magi thought they had a sure-fire plan to get back, confident in knowing their way home. But then God unexpectedly changes their plans! Suddenly they must return by a new way. God has warned them in a dream to take a different path home, and they are open to this change. Am I able to accept a sudden change of plans when God’s permissive will requires it? To cite just one example, when weather issues keep people from flying home for Christmas despite the best of planning, how do we react? How do we treat the person who is trying to help (hint: that used to be me). In the same way, we grow in our walk with God even through circumstances that at the time may not seem optimal to us. The desire and appreciation of just “getting home” at Christmas becomes of paramount importance when, despite our best efforts, it remains out of reach. We may think we are in control of our lives and our plans secure, but this is an illusion. All is ultimately in the hands of God. The lesson: trust in God, not just in ourselves! “Jesus, I trust in you.”
There is yet another way of looking at the Magi having changed their plans. Having discovered and seen Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews, their return by a different way symbolizes repentance, a change of heart. When I encounter Christ in my daily life, or hear a scripture or word at Mass that strikes me, the Lord then invites me to a new way, a change of heart, a change of plans. The Magi, then, have much to teach us, both coming and going.
Father Gary ~