[Excerpted from the January/February 2018 issue of Emmanuel. Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015.]
Despite the story of the Magi having captured Christian imagination through the centuries, in our scientific age, we have difficulty with the idea of a traveling star able to stop at a particular house. As a result, most of us do not really identify with the Magi. The thought of their coming from a long distance, having to overcome great obstacles to follow a star, removes their experience from our own. Furthermore, we tend to feel that we have already found God; we have no need of a journey of discovery.
Perhaps it is precisely this attitude that blinded Herod and all the religious leaders in Jerusalem. All of these should have seen far more clearly than the Magi. They should have understood what was happening in their midst. After all, they studied the Scriptures each day. But they did not really know them. They dealt daily with the sacred. They were not thereby sanctified. Even worse, those whose familiarity with the Bible should have led them to seek and find Jesus had no urge to accompany the Magi.