The Wise Men … who were they? Who ARE they?
In the ancient world the wise men were the scientists, people with certain knowledge, and a huge influence on the daily life of the population as well as on the political and religious life of the state. They were actually "active" in the domain of -what we call today- natural sciences. Their knowledge was much more superior to the average person and even much more superior to the knowledge of the political leaders. They explained the dreams and events of life using their astronomical and mathematical knowledge.
In the catholic tradition, following the Gospel of St. Matthew, “After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, 'Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage',” (Mt 2,1-2) we are talking about the Wise Men. Although, later in the Middle Ages under the influence of the Psalm 72,10 “the kings of Tarshish and the islands will pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Saba will offer gifts; all kings will do him homage, all nations become his servants.”.. Here, the name of kings is used. We don't even know how many of them were present at the stable in Bethlehem. Nevertheless, the tradition of celebrating the feast of God's revelation - the Epiphany, is actually older than the tradition of celebrating Christmas itself. It was known already in Egypt in the third century and in Rome in the fourth century. The Nativity of Christ was celebrated together with the visit of the Wise Men, the Baptism of Christ in Jordan and the first revelation of the divinity of Christ in Cana of Galilee.
However, what is more important is the meaning, the signification of this solemnity. We are living in a world of the large and overwhelming moral and religious relativism. We have lost our point of reference, our heads and our moral compasses are deregulated. In this world -like in the time of Jesus- we need some firm and well-founded not volatile rules and principles. We can easily replace the truth by feelings,"doing right" by "feeling good". This is why we need God's revelation as an ultimate, an unchangeable, unalterable truth. This is what we receive in Jesus Christ. He will tell about Himself -later in the Gospel of St. John- "I am the TRUTH, I am the WAY and I am the LIFE". Jesus Christ is for us... (especially for us, for His disciples)... the TRUTH, the WAY and the LIFE) … or.. is He not? As long as I have my personal, private truths,... which are far from Jesus,... as long as I have my individual and isolated ways of life, where Jesus has nothing to say, as long as my life is not aligned with the life of my Saviour … I am not a disciple of Christ, I have no right to call myself Catholic or Christian. Jesus said even stronger: "You will know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will make you free".
In those three Wise Men we can see all those who are searching for the truth, all those who are able to consecrate a lot to find the ultimate sense and meaning of life, to find Jesus Christ in His revelation. God's will is, to be with us (Emmanuel), God's will is, to reveal Himself to those who would like to know Him. He is not hiding; He is not playing any kind of games with us. He is ready to be known, and... to be loved. The only necessary condition is the honest willingness to know Him. The readiness to abandon my truths, my ways and even myself so to know more and more of God in His divinity.
He even become Man - Jesus Christ, and was known as the child of Mary, to be... more accessible, more available, more approachable.
In the Gospel of St. John Jesus says: "And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
Where am I with my personal duty of knowing God? Am I following the way of the wise men or maybe I am rather with Herod? Afraid of, in panic, scared of Jesus?