There is nothing to be gained by speculating where the Magi came from and what exactly the star was. The star was only the means by which a great mystery was revealed – the revelation of Christ as the Saviour of both Jew and Gentile. The second reading in today’s Mass, from Ephesians, expresses the same theological truth of today’s feast. God invites Jews and Gentiles to share on an equal footing the benefits of Salvation brought by Christ.This is from a homily by Fr Aelred for Epiphany posted by Dom Donald of Nunraw Abbey in Scotland. The point that is being made is an extremely important one: trying to explain a mystery “scientifically” is pointless. There is nothing at all to be gained from such speculation, and even something to be lost, our faith.
It always vaguely annoys me every year when I hear even faithful Catholics say something like, “Well, the star was really an exploding super nova, you know,” or some such thing. In the same way when people try to explain the feeding of the five thousand by saying what really happened is that all the people brought sandwiches with them. Egad, do people realize when they say that they are, in essence, denying Jesus’ willingness and/or ability to perform a miracle? It comes close to refusing to take God at his word. Looking a Scripture like that soon leads to an attitude of complete skepticism.
It’s difficult for people today to accept the fact that God is so far above as, “as the east is from the west,” that there are things we can’t understand and never will understand. We have lost our sense of mystery, and so much else in the bargain.
Sorry, I had to rant just a little.
Matthew is our only source for the account of the three Gentiles who come from a far country to pay homage to the Christ Child. For Matthew, the story of the Magi becomes an anticipation of the fate of the good News of Salvation, a fate that He knew in the aftermath of the Resurrection! God revealed Himself to the Jews through the Scriptures and the Gentiles through nature. Hence, Matthew shows the Mage receiving a revelation through astrology. The story highlights the paradox: the Jews who have the Scriptures reject Jesus, while Gentiles come, and with the help of the Scriptures, find and adore Him.