The Wise Men


Two more Christmas poems by U.A.Fanthorpe :-

Wise Men are busy being computer literate.

There should be a law against confusing 
Religion with mathematics.
There was a baby. Born where ?
And when ? The sources mention
Massacres, prophecies, stars;
They tell a good story, but they don't agree.

So we celebrate at the wrong midnight.
Does it matter ? Only dull science expects 
An accurate audit. The economy of heaven 
Looks for fiestas and fireworks every day,
Every day.
Be realistic, says heaven :
Expect a miracle.

The Wise Man and The Star

The proper place for stars is in the sky
Lighting the whole world,but negotiating only
With the highly qualified - master mariners, astro-physicists,
Professionals like ourselves.

This one came unscheduled, nudged us roughly
Out of routine, led us a wild - goose chase,
And perching here, above unspeakable rafters,
Common as a starling on a washing line,
Whistles to every callow Dick and Harry,
Idlling amazed around : OK, pals, I've done my bit.
Over to you, now, Earth.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? 
For we saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

The Magi or Wise Men, specialized in astronomy, medicine, and natural science. These were wise men: magi, not magicians; astronomers, not astrologers; scientists, not wizards. 
They were probably religious philosophers from Persia who had become familiar with Jewish prophecies through contact with the writings of Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezra and other Jews scattered throughout the East. 

They must have been familiar with scripture. There were most likely not the three famous ones, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, but a company of people travelling .
The reason we often think that there are only three is because they brought three gifts to Jesus : gold, frankincense, myrrh.

  • gold: for a king 
  • frankincense: for a god - used in worship
  • myrrh: for a man - used in preparing a body for burial

The wise men probably did not arrive on the birth night, 
but many days or even more likely many months to even a year or more afterwards.

Journey of Maji by James Tissot

When Herod ordered all the male children killed, it was for those aged two and below. He asks the Magi when they saw the star in the sky – with that information he could have figured how old the child was.

To ensure he was going to kill Jesus he included babies up to two years of age but if Jesus were only a few days or a month old he would have only had to have murder the one year olds and below.  So Jesus could have been a little older here when the Magi arrive on the scene.

My Reflections on the Journey 

Whatever the facts are it is certain that the Wise Men read the Scriptures and understood what it was saying, they saw the star, and so they sought after Jesus. 
They were tenacious in their seeking. 

I have travelled this Advent road, this year, with many, both known and unknown. 
but after all is said and done, all our journeys are one.
Whether we have set our feet intentionally toward Bethlehem or stumbled on the path by accident, what we have needed and what we have had to offer may have become more clear, refracted by the light of this amazing star overhead.

As I reach the end of my journey this year I come to meet the sacred child Jesus in a manger, in a Bethlehem, the place where I am known fully.

I hope and pray that we may all be just as tenacious in our continuous search to meet Christ in our lives as the magi were.

In this final week I need to look around and see who might need my help getting to their personal Bethlehem or, who might help me to get there !!

I believe that this messy and wonderful mix of who we all are will be known and loved in a small manger in a special town called Bethlehem.

I pray and hope that when we get there,  we will be welcomed and accepted-- with all our imperfections, our sadness, our grief, regret, confusion, doubt, tumult, anger, love, joy, kindness, and our compassion.

And we will all meet up with each other -- joined by faith, joined by hope, joined by love.


claire said...

One beautiful post after the next, Phil. Wonderful!

The feminist in me wants to share this joke here which I am sure you already know :-)

Do know what would have happened if it had been three wise WOMEN instead of men, don’t you? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought disposable diapers as gifts!

Merry Christmas, Phil :-)

Philomena Ewing said...

Hi Claire,
It is so lovely to have you here, especially as we move towards Christmas !! We have shared the journey for a long time !!
I have not heard this one before and it is very funny and probably true, except in my case I would probably have bought a ready meal !!
Thank you so much for being there.
All blessings and peace to you and early Merry Christmas greetings too!!