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The Catholic Defender: The Christmas Wise Men


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.”When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:



‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”


Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.


He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”


After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.


They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.



They have become known most commonly as Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper). According to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia or sometimes Ethiopia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India


followed a star from the East to Bethlehem in search of a newborn king. There they found Mary and the baby Jesus and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


Melchior is often represented as a king of Persia and is usually said to have given the gift of gold to the Christ Child. In art he is frequently depicted as the oldest of the three Magi, often with a long white beard.


Balthasar, king of Ethiopia or Saba, land of spices, was 40 and brought frankincense in a censer. He is traditionally depicted as black. Melchior, king of Arabia, was 60 and brought a casket of gold in the form of a shrine.


Gaspar, king of Tarsus, land of merchants, was a youth of 20 and brought myrrh in a gold-mounted horn.


They brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – each of which tells us something about Jesus' identity.


Frankincense was used for worship in the Temple; it is symbolic of Christ the High Priest. Gold is symbolic of Christ the King. Myrrh a perfume, was used to anoint dead bodies, it is symbolic of His death for the sake of truth, and therefore of Christ the Prophet.


frankincense is considered sweeter and warmer while myrrh is more earthy and bitter.


Persian priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science.



It was September 3 B.C. The planet Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo-Leo the Lion. This would be the star the wise men would follow leading them to Bethlehem. They followed the star for about 16 months until the Star rested over Bethlehem for six days beginning on Dec 25, 2 B.C.

 

Isaiah 60:1-6 prophesied, “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes anbd look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your hear shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”



The Wise men and their caravan stayed and camped around the area of Bethlehem until after the Presentation of the Lord. the wise men receive a message in a dream to go another route and to not see King Herod. For timing sake, I am simply adding February 2 here which marks the 40 days after the birth of Christ and his Presentation at the Temple. By this time, certainly King Herod would be waiting for the wise men to report back to him with much anxiousness.

 

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