When asked to paint the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Michelangelo followed a scheme in which he alternates Jewish prophets with pagan oracles. His goal was to offer the viewer the Christian belief that ’all wisdom’, whether it be Jewish or pagan, looks to one person, Jesus Christ, himself also depicted here, now as Judge of the entire world. Similarly, Matthew joins the Magi, pagan wisdom teachers, with Old Testament prophecies to teach that ’all wisdom’ leads to the source of stability, peace and happiness. Magi were specifically people who dedicated themselves to learning, because learning was the gateway to happiness - the more one knew and understood rightly, the more one could control one’s life, one’s circumstances, particularly the future. The goal of magi, then, was knowledge that secures happiness, the goal of life. In Matthew’s story, these Magi find the King who secures the happiness, now and forever, for those who believe in him. Indeed, as the story suggests, ’all wisdom’ speaks of the one God and of His Son, God-with-us as Matthew says. We follow whatever guides we can to find Him and never let Him go.
Epiphany - January 6