By Mary Sayad
The wise men from the East who came to adore Jesus in Bethlehem were known as the Magi. They were most likely members of a priestly caste of Medes who provided priests for Persia (known as Iraq today). The religion of the Magi was fundamentally that of Zoroaster, and they developed great skill in astrology and the interpretations of dreams. The names of the Magi are Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The exact time of their visit is not known but it likely took place after the Presentation of Baby Jesus in the Temple.
These three kings were spiritual men and scholars of religion. They were educated in the Old Testament and its prophecies. They believed in the coming of the Messiah. Because of their piety and trust in God, the angels informed them in a dream of Jesus' birth. They were chosen to search and give reverence to the Promised Messiah. The Kings were guided by a mystical star and although they traveled from different parts of the world, they reached a specific location simultaneously.
They were rulers of Mesopatamia. The oldest King was Melchior. He came from Media. As is common from that region, his complexion was olive colored. Balthasar came from Parthia and his skin coloring was dark brown. Caspar, the youngest came from Mesopatamia and had a light brown skin coloring.
Upon visiting the Holy Family in the cave in Bethlehem, each King brought gifts. Melchior gave a flowering shrub known as myrrh. Caspar brought gold. Balthasar brought incense or frankincense.
Myrrh is an aromatic plant gum and is obtained from a specific tree trunk. Its aromatic resin was used as spice, medicine and holy oil for burning during Temple worship. The gum from myrrh was mixed with a drink and offered to Jesus as a painkiller while he was on the cross but Jesus refused. His body was embalmed with myrrh and aloe. John 19: 39-40.
Frankincense was taken from a frankincense tree trunk. Its aromatic resin would be collected and used for burning during worship. In the Byzantine Rite or Eastern Rite it is used during every Divine Liturgy and is used at High Masses in the Roman or Western Rite.
Only Matthew relates the visit of the Magi in the New Testament: Matthew 2 - 1-2 "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, "saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."
"My daughter, great were the gifts which the Kings offered to my most holy Son, but greater still was the affection with which they offered them and the mystery concealed beneath them. I wish you to also offer up similar gifts. For I assure you, my dearest, that there is no more acceptable gift to the Most High than voluntary poverty. There are few in the world who use temporal riches well and offer them to their Lord with generosity and love of those holy Kings. You too can make such an offering of the things necessary for sustenance, giving a part to the poor. Your ceaseless offer, however, must be love, which is the gold; continued prayer, which is the incense; and the patient acceptance of labors and true mortifications, which is myrrh. All that you do for the Lord, you should offer up to Him with ardent affection."
My Beloved Friends,
In the above dictation, Our Blessed Mother simply and eloquently shows us how to live, think and feel.
Stir your soul to new heights by seeking holiness. The love of God transcends everything. By opening your hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit, you can be a channel by which God's love is demonstrated.
May you all enjoy health and a soul inspiring New Year!
Please continue to pray for world peace and for the safety of our service men and women and their families. Remember also to pray for the Asian earthquake victims and their families. Thank you for your love.
Your companion in prayer,