IT is faith which, today, leads the Wise Men to the feet of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is faith which can alone lead us to heaven and to God. But,"to attain this happy result, our faith must be marked by the same characters which rendered it so admirable in the Wise Men, viz., docility, generosity, and constancy.
First Point —The faith of the Wise Men has been a docile faith. See with what promptitude they correspond with grace! They say: "We have seen His star in the East, and we have come to adore Him." There is no delay, no hesitation between the promptings of grace and their correspondence to it. This promptitude is one of the first conditions of a return to God. There are in life certain solemn and happy circumstances when grace speaks clearly to our heart. For instance, when we make a retreat, or receive good advice, or see some good example, or listen to a most touching instruction, or hear of the death of some one whom we have loved, or when we learn something which stirs us to the very depths of our heart, this is the star which must lead us to Christ! Happy is he who shall follow it with docility; his conversion is assured. Under the influence of grace which speaks, urges, and solicits, we are all-powerful; there are no bonds which we cannot break, no obstacles which we cannot overcome. The Cananaean woman, Magdalene, and the prodigal son succeeded in the work of their sanctification because they were prompt to follow the inspirations of grace. But woe to him who looks backward, arrested by the countless considerations which the demon never fails to place before our eyes. The light disappears, conscience sleeps again, and the evil penetrates deeper than ever. Is not this your experience?
How many times has grace enlightened your mind and moved your heart, and still you have always deferred your return. You have reason to fear that so much resistance to grace may be punished by its withdrawal.
Second Point — The faith of the Wise Men was a generous faith. What tongue can tell the sacrifices they made? They are idolaters and strangers to the customs and languages of the countries through which they must pass; they are separated from Bethlehem by a great distance, and a respectable tradition tells us they were kings. How many difficulties arise from these different circumstances! They could allege the cares of their kingdoms, attachment to an hereditary worship, the length and difficulty of the journey, the fear of being deceived by the character of the star which served as guide—but no such thought hindered them. In fact, nothing arrests them; they leave everything, and set out on their journey resolutely. What a comparison between your conduct and theirs, and how the comparison should cause you to blush for your conduct!
At length they appear before Herod. Even in the presence of this king, so cruelly jealous, you shall not see the Wise Men dissimulate the object of their journey or conceal their sentiments. They openly declare to him that they have come, not to adore him, but to adore Him whose star they have seen. They are at once apostles and martyrs; and this is still the conduct of Christians really worthy of the name. The world is a master just as cruel and as jealous as Herod ever was; it wishes to be worshipped, or you shall incur its disgrace; but the true Christian smiles at the menace of the world and remains faithful to his God, at the cost of the most sorrowful sacrifices. The coward heart, a slave of human respect, a slave of pride or ambition, instead of openly declaring his faith, conceals it; thus he paralyzes the action of grace, and, deceived by sterile desires, he defers his coming to God until a time that never comes. It is needless to say such conduct is not a model for imitation.
The generosity of the Wise Men was evident, especially in their obedience. God had sent them an angel to warn them. He commanded them to return to their country by another way. At once they obeyed, without thinking of inquiring the reasons for such a strange order, without murmur or complaint. They resume their journey, on the road indicated, although it might be longer or more difficult. But what of the promise given to Herod? What shall the king say, what shall all Jerusalem think of the violation of their word? They are not at all disturbed by this thought; God has spoken: that is sufficient. They know only how to obey. Do likewise in all the circumstances of your life. When you know the will of God, strive to accomplish it, and put aside all human considerations.
Third Point —The faith of the Wise Men is constant. Although their faith was tested severely, still it surmounted every obstacle. The first trial of their faith was the disappearance of the star which had hitherto guided them. It leaves them as soon as they had entered Jerusalem and Herod's court. Hence two thoughts naturally follow from this: the first is, that to enjoy the holy communications of grace, it is necessary to live far from certain people, far, especially, from the society of Herods and the enemies of Christ. Do you wish to find your star, that is to say, to recover your first piety, the fervor of a certain epoch in your life ? Depart from the world, from the tumult of business, from dissipation and pleasures—then shall your star reappear.
The second instruction we must receive is that God does not give extraordinary lights and graces, unless the ordinary means are wanting. The star was useless to the Wise Men when they were in the midst of the doctors of the law, who could have indicated to them the way they should follow to find Jesus. And thus the soul which is in the Church, who has for its guide the priests of the Lord, should not complain of the privation of certain interior lights. The soul has her spiritual guide whom she should consult and abandon herself to his direction. If this aid were wanting, God shall supply it by particular graces. But the faith of the Wise Men must be tested once more. The star at length stops, but where? Doubtless over a magnificent palace, for what other dwelling could be worthy of God? But no; it stops over an abandoned hut. They enter—and find it a stable! And what do they find there? On a little straw a child is lying, scarcely protected from the cold by the clothes which cover Him; near Him are only two adorers, Mary and Joseph. What a test for ordinary faith! Are they not deceived? Was the star they followed indeed the star of Jacob? Was the long journey they made well considered ? But their faith is fortified by the very difficulties which should have shaken it. There is in their heart neither doubt nor hesitation. Behold them at the feet of the divine Infant, kissing with love the little hands which He presents to them, adoring with respect their God concealed under the appearance of infancy. They open their treasures and place at His feet the triple tribute of their homage—gold because He is a king, myrrh because He is a man, and frankincense because He is their God.
O Jesus, my God, concealed through love for me, no longer under the appearance of infancy, but under the eucharistic veils, I come to offer Thee, not gold, but the homage of a heart which loves Thee. I place my offering, not at the foot of the crib, but at the foot of Thy tabernacle. What a happiness for me, O my God, if after having recognized Thee, adored Thee, and loved Thee here below, under the veil which hides Thee from my mortal eyes, I shall merit the happiness to contemplate Thee, to adore Thee, and to love Thee in the bosom of Thy eternity, where Thou manifestest Thyself to Thy elect, face to face, and without veil of any kind.
Source: Short Instructions for Every Sunday of the Year and the Principal Feasts, Imprimatur 1897