Mt. 2: 1-12 (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010520.cfm )
Some years ago, I had the privilege of working with the Spiritan initiative for asylum-seekers in Ireland (SPIRASI). Given the geographical situation of Ireland, most of the clients come to us from the east. Like the magi in the gospel, they too are on a quest. They seek security and safety, a better life for their families, a place where they can practice their religion in freedom and express their convictions without fear of repression. Like the magi who arrive in an unknown land, they ask for help, good advice and a compassionate welcome.
In their spiritual quest, the magi turned to Herod. Presumably, they saw in him a wise and just ruler. Their innocence is to be admired but could have had disastrous consequences if they had not been warned to ‘return by another way’. Not all innocents manage to escape the tyranny of the oppressor.
Our spiritual journeys, our quest to live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus can be fraught with danger. We see this in today’s feast just days after the joyful celebration of the birth of the child Jesus.
In today’s world, where complex issues tend to be reduced to the size of a tweet, we hear more and more talk about identity and identity politics. But the gospel, and today’s gospel in particular, is not about identity. It is about seeking and welcoming the other, the stranger, the person who is different from me – different by birth, language, accent or skin colour. It is into this rich, diverse humanity that Jesus is born and reveals himself as the Saviour of all.
When the magi come knocking at my door seeking a welcome, help, and protection, how will I respond? Will I be able to recognise the gifts that they bring?