|Girolamo Da Treviso The Younger - Adoration of the Kings.|
IV. THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS
"And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night-watches over their flocks. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them and the Brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them : Fear not, for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people. For this day is born to you a Saviour in the City of David, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying : Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the Angels had departed from them into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another : Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word which is come to pass, which the Lord hath shown to us. And they came with haste and they found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in the manger." (Luke ii. 8-16.)
Thus amongst men, the first to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph were those simple shepherds. They were Jews and they were poor. To the Jews first was the Messias sent, and to the poor first in every age was the Gospel to be preached. Our Lady's heart was full of joy and welcome for these faithful men who thus early found the Saviour who is Christ the Lord. But when the shepherds left the cave, they left no gifts behind them. They represented themselves alone. Others were soon to come from far off, mysteriously attracted, rich and learned, the firstfruits of the Church of the Gentiles that was to be, offering mystic gifts to Mary's Son.
"When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews ? For we have seen His Star in the East and are come to adore Him . . . and behold the Star which they had seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the Star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house they found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him; and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts : gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matt. ii. 1-11)
Tradition has preserved the names of these Wise Men. They are venerated in the Church as Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. How musical the names sound to us, as we say them aloud over and over again changing the order as we please. Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior. The beautiful words sound like music in our hearts, for they belong to our fathers in the Faith, who found of old, as, by God's Mercy, we too, in these later days have found, Jesus with Mary His Mother. They adored Him and offered Him their gifts. Of the Feast of the Epiphany we can never tire, and even when the hair is white on our heads, it is a delight which seems yearly to grow greater, when Epiphany comes round, to kneel with the children by the Crib and admire the rich Kings with their regal train. What music then must it have made in the heart of Mary when she watched it, not in representation, but in reality, as it happened before her eyes. What joy in her soul as she watched the Pageant of their coming. Whilst yet they lingered, there was rendered to her Son, if only for a moment, that which was His by every right and title. He came unto His own, and His own people received Him not—save only the shepherds, and afterwards, a few poor fishermen and the like. But these Wise Men, who were Gentiles, not only were willing to receive Him—they came from afar to find Him. The Wise Men found Him who is the Eternal Wisdom and they did not fail to recognise Him even in His self-abasement. They gave Him the adoration that is His due.
Mary herself is the Sedes Sapientitæ, Wisdom's Seat, and they found Him on His chosen Throne— in His Mother's arms. She had found no cradle of gold in which to lay her Babe. She, who is Heaven's Queen, had been forced to lay her Child in the Manger, upon the straw. And now they were offering Him gold. Was it not seemly ? He is the King of Kings, of David's Royal Line. They were offering Him incense. Was it not just ? He is the Lord her God. They were offering Him myrrh. Was it not touching ? He has taken our human nature and needs all the care and comfort His Mother can bestow upon Him. There was also mystical forethought for His Burial.
When the Wise Men reverently said their farewell to our Lady and went back into their own country— when the pomp and the glory of their coming was slowly passing away—Mary's heart felt very soft and tender—perhaps she was very near to tears—but assuredly she was full of joy.