After reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel and the story of the Three Wise Men, I wondered if the Kings were surprised by what they found. Did the expect to find a great prince born in a palace? Did they contemplate turning around when they saw that the result of their search was a baby born in a dirty cave among animals? How did this boring uneventful story without heroes, without epic battles, get past along through history?
It really brought to mind how strange and odd Christianity really is and how because of this oddness it cannot be a man made religion. After all, what man would invent a religion where the god of their religion was born in a cave, was raised by a poor family and trained as a carpenter, instead of a strong and courageous warrior? What man would invent a religion where this same god would enlist the help of some of the worst sinners, and the least educated of all people? What person would have their god die on a Roman cross?
This is precisely why I think we can trust Christianity to be true because it is something we would never have expected. It is a story that really doesn’t make sense, it is not even close to resembling those works of fiction, we call fairytales, that are so exciting and interesting to us. As a religion, Christianity should have been laughed off the face of the planet, and yet it became the most dominant force in western civilization, outlasting great empire after great empire and today boasting one third of the world’s population as members.
Not only does this story remind us that God is the author and not us but, The Three Wise Men also show us what to do with this strange story. They remind us to respond to God in the way he chooses to encounter us and not the way we would have chosen. We would expect to see God in a beautiful sunrise or in a beautiful church, and we often find ourselves disappointed when we feel nothing in the precise place we were sure to find him. Instead, we should look to the Magi, who like us, probably expected to encounter God in a different way, and yet chose to go into the cave to worship the new baby king, rather than turning away thinking they had made a mistake.