Crabby clients, frozen fingers, blustery breezes, twits on Twitter… *checks calendar* Yup, it’s Monday. (Annnd now I have the theme song from Horrible Histories stuck in my head!) Not just any Monday, either; supposedly, the first Monday after New Year’s is the most miserable day of the year.
Ironic, then, that this year it falls on Epiphany.
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey…’
–T. S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
Eliot’s onto something here. There had to be an element of what seemed like folly in the actions of the Magi, to travel so far to give homage to a Child Who wasn’t even their own king, facing who knows what obstacles from weather and the vagaries of the road in the days when camel was the only way to travel such a distance. I sometimes wish we knew what lore they’d been studying, what they expected to find when they got to Jerusalem, what they knew or surmised about the One Whose star they’d seen… and why myrrh, of all things. Among its other uses, myrrh was an embalming spice. It fits what *we* know of Jesus–“King and God and Sacrifice,” as the carol says–but what did *they* know? If they were from Persia, was it some prophecy Daniel left behind? Or did it come from some other source?
And yet… and yet. The larger issue, I suppose, is the much cheerier paradox that they were searching for Him because God had been searching for them. (This article reminds me both of C. S. Lewis’ quip in Surprised By Joy that as an atheist he’d considered “man’s search for God” to be the equivalent of “the mouse’s search for the cat” and of his later scene in The Silver Chair where Aslan tells Jill, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.”) Whatever lore the Magi had, the fact that it accurately led them to Jesus indicates that it came from God. Jesus was sent to the Jews, yes, but God had always intended for salvation to be available to the whole world. Odds are, if you’re reading this, your ancestry is mostly or entirely Gentile, but the coming of the Magi is the first proof in the Gospel that God’s willing to scour the earth looking for you… because He loves you and wants you to have eternal life, if only you will accept.
Take that, Blue Monday!
P.S. If you need a big batch of giggles to get out of the Mondays:
(Thanks to my friends Steve and Natalie for drawing my attention to the poem and the Magi article, respectively.)