Well, kings they were not. The gospel tells us that they were “wise” men that came from the East, and that is enough. The obvious question is why are they referred to as Wise? What’s so special about them? When I reflect on this story, I think that their wisdom lies in the fact that they are searching. It does not matter whether they knew how to read the stars or not, or whether they spoke different languages. They were people on the move. They could have been rich, and probably they were. But they knew that they lacked something. And they set out on a journey to look for what they knew, in their wisdom, that they were lacking. They followed the star – a beautiful symbol of light in the skies. When they lost sight of this guide, they were neither afraid nor embarrassed to ask. They needed help, and they knew, in their wisdom, that they did not have all the answers. They were open to learn, to take new paths, to walk in places they had never known before. As they journeyed, they learnt and they continued to grow in their wisdom. They did not know how long would this journey take them, neither where it was taking them. They took it one step at a time. In the meantime, they got constantly closer to what they were looking for.
Sometimes, they approached the wrong person for instructions. Herod, who due to his badness and corruption was frightened that this might be his end, told them to go and find Him, and return through the same way, so that he, too, “may go and pay homage to him.” No wonder that Jesus has very harsh words in the gospels for those who allow themselves to be guided by evil in their lives.
The wise men do not know it all. The wise men are always searching for the truth. God knows and acknowledges this, and he intervenes not to let them return to Herod.
A beautiful reaction is the one these men had when they finally arrived at their destination: they were overwhelmed with joy, the gospel tells us. God often gives us joy or happiness in unexpected ways. They were searching for a king, and yet they only found a baby with his mother in the poorest and most humble of conditions. Nothing special. Yet, they believed, and they were touched in their innermost being.
Perhaps a question I can ask myself today is what am I looking for in my life? Where do I seek to attain my happiness? And what do I use to guide me in my life to get me there?
The wise men allowed themselves to by guided by God’s own light. They allowed themselves to be surprised by God, and they did not regret it.