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As children we grew up near the church and most of the time we were in the church to help clean and arrange things. At Christmas time we were fascinated by the Nativity scene as slowly it becomes complete – first, there were just Joseph and Mary and some farm animals, then the centerpiece Baby Jesus comes. My cousin used to say though, that the Nativity scene would not be truly complete until the “three Kings” or Magi arrived. True enough, when we saw the Magi already in front of the King of Kings, we knew that Christmas was indeed complete.

The Magi complete the Christmas story because it is through them that we know what happens after the birth of the Savior of the world. God has indeed revealed himself fully to his chosen people. These were a people who met God through the angels and prophets, through miracles and wonders, and most importantly, through his Word, the Scriptures. And yet, not all the Jews would open their hearts to receive their king and to acknowledge him when he came.

In contrast, the Magi were a people from a faraway land, and certainly not part of the chosen people. They were Gentiles, without benefit of direct revelation from God. That they saw a “star” tells us that they read the signs of nature to find the will of God. Instead of Scripture, they relied on signs. And yet, they came, braving all difficulties, to find the King proclaimed by their heavenly sign. They not only came but adored God in the baby in the manger.

Christmas is truly a gospel story in itself. What would happen to Jesus later in life already happened to him at his humble beginnings. In his adult life, as a preacher, Jesus would be met with two possible reactions: acceptance and rejection. In the Christmas story, the reactions were already happening.

The paradox is that those who were waiting for the Messiah missed the opportunity because they failed to receive the Lord. And those who had no inkling of salvation finally possessed the joy of encountering the Lord, as the Magi did.

Now that we are ending Christmas again, let us remember that all throughout our lives, we are in between two choices, to receive or to reject the God who comes to us. Let us pray for openness and fidelity that we may be found faithful to the Lord.