Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates
SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Magi in Jerusalem

January 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Christmas, Dan Burke, Epiphany, Meditations, The Prince of Peace

THE MAGI IN JERUSALEM

“And Herod the King hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for as it is written by the Prophet: ‘And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come forth the ruler, who shall rule my people Israel.' Then Herod, privately calling the Wise Men, inquired of them diligently the time of the star's appearing to them. And sending them into Bethlehem said, ‘Go, and search diligently after the Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him.”
Matthew 2:3-8

TissotTheMagiInTheHouseOfHerod-smRestoredTraditionsREQUIRES HOT LINK1. It is proverbial, it is illustrated again and again in history and in literature, that the greatest unbelievers, above all those who are faithless with a bad conscience, are the most superstitious people in the world. Herod is no exception to this rule; one may say his character is fairly well analyzed in Shakespeare's Macbeth, except that the latter had at least an early record that was clean. He was dominated by superstitious fears, buoyed up by superstitious hopes; the coming of the Magi was one more of the influences that guided him in the merciless plans he was for ever framing. But “the chief priests and scribes”–what are we to think of them? What a contrast is this recognition of prophecy to that last cry before another ruler: “We have no King but Caesar.” Here at least they accepted the evidence; they were not interested enough to question or deny it; its significance, and therefore their opposition, would develop later.

2. But there is perhaps no passage in the New Testament which more clearly displays the mind of the Jews than this. It is agreed by all, Christians and non-Christians alike, that they were full of the spirit of prophecy. Not only did they accept direct prophecy as they had received it, but they took the whole record of the Old Testament as prophetic; they interpreted passage after passage in a prophetic sense, though literally they had no such meaning; even the events and persons in their past history they held to be significant of the Christ that was to come. And the Holy Ghost guided them in their interpretation; as this, and several other passages quoted by the evangelists show, they were not wrong, even though they proved themselves utterly unworthy of the guidance. Though men fail Him, God still keeps His Church infallible.

3. The Magi came into Jerusalem, and found the “faithful” Jews seemingly indifferent. They made their inquiries in all simplicity, and found they had created a hubbub. The Church of Jerusalem had apparently gone to sleep, and was so roused to a fever by these strangers knocking at the door. Light and grace had come from an unexpected quarter, in an unexpected moment, and the “faithful” did not know what to make of it. Clearly it was light, clearly it was grace; but light and grace are sometimes annoying to those who have settled down in a contentment of indifference. They would send these Wise Men on; they themselves would not move. If the King should afterwards be found to suit their turn, they could take up His cause later; if not, they could remain where they were. There was another alternative; but that at the time did not trouble them. It was continued in the King's own words: “He that is not with Me is against Me.”

Summary Meditation Points:

  1. The character of Herod and of the chief priests and scribes.
  2. The Jewish mind in regard to prophecy.
  3. The treatment of the Magi in Jerusalem.

 

Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ (1)Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).

Art: The Magi in the House of Herod, James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894, PD-US, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • BlueMit11

    “Clearly it was light, clearly it was grace; but light and grace are sometimes annoying to those who have settled down in a contentment of indifference. They would send these Wise Men on; they themselves would not move.”

    What a pithy summary of the state of so many Westerners and heirs of Christendom today. Thank you, Dan, for sharing this treasure.

  • LizEst

    …and thanks for your awareness, MgW. God bless you.

  • LizEst

    Oh, this is too funny. I just noticed this: The Magus on the left looks like you, Dan Burke…speaking truth to power! Talk about photo-bombing some artwork! Ha!

  • Only you, Dear Liz, can notice this fascinating resemblance!!!!!! Happy New Year to you all

    • LizEst

      Too funny! But, I see that you see it, too! I wonder what gift Dan brought?!!

      So good to hear from you, Mary. I was just telling someone we had not heard from you for a while. You are in my prayers.

      • Oh, Dear Liz, I do read the Posts but I have not been making any responses of late. I have also been occupied by the current terror attacks in our Motherland from the Islamic extremist group by the name of Al Shabaab from neighbouring lawless Somalia. Our young President and his Government need lots of Prayers as the Political Opposition here seems more concerned with protection of the Human Rights of the terrorists than the lives of innocent Kenyans who have borne the brunt of the attacks with loss of lives and maimings.

Skip to toolbar