Magi and Mission
Raymond Brown was a Roman Catholic priest and a great Biblical exegete in the 20th century. I commend his little book ‘An Adult Christ for Christmas,’ from which I am cribbing the idea for this blog.
Shaman, indigenous healer, astrologer, mystic, philosopher: any or all might translate who the ‘wise men’ were. Brown’s insight is this: their insight could bring a person to the general area where truth, light, and sanctity are found. But Brown goes on to point out that only the reference to the Scriptures of Israel can take the searcher to the very spot where the Christ-child lay.
Brown finds in this contrast a deep truth of Christian theology. By the ‘natural knowledge of God’ it means what we humans can understand of God by reason. Such knowledge however is broken, partial, and unclear- it gets us into the vicinity, but not there.
All of this leads then to the Feast of Epiphany as the celebration of the Christian mission. Now the nations are summoned to the light. And this involves the seeking heart, drawn to God, distorting Him, resisting Him, be as they made in His image and idolaters. The Epiphany would play itself out again and again over two millennia.