THE WISE MEN DEPARTED ANOTHER WAY
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’’ Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” (Mt 2: 1-12)
The wise men come to Bethlehem, looking for a King. But first they are “summoned“ by another king, Herod. And they obey his summons, telling Herod what he wants to know. But after the wise men find their King, they also find “another way,“ – other than obedience to Herod’s abusive authority, – to make their journey home.
Today, as we celebrate the great feast of the Lord’s Nativity, let me also celebrate the “Other Way,“ other than people-pleasing, opened up to me by the coming into my life of a New Boss, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “When Augustus reigned alone upon earth,“ as we sing at the Vespers of this feast, “the multifaceted rule of people came to an end (ἡ πολυαρχία τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπαύσατο / многоначалие человеков преста).“ Today let me make my journey “home,“ the journey of salvation, in Him, and by the liberating light of His kingship. Lord, glory to You!