KILL OR ADORE
Herod and his court represent the world of the powerful. Everything is of value in that world as long as it strengthens their proper power: calculation, strategy, lie. Also of value include cruelty, terror, scorn of human beings and the destruction of innocent people. It seems to be a grand and powerful world, it presents itself as a defender of order and justice, but it’s weak and miserable, since it always ends up seeking the child «to kill him».
According to Matthew’s story, the Magi who come from the East break into this world of darkness. Some exegetes today interpret the Gospel legend turning to the psychology of what’s deep within us. The Magi represent the path followed by those who listen to the most noble desires of the human heart; the star that guides them is nostalgia for the divine; the path they travel is desire. In order to discover the divine in what’s human, in order to adore the child instead of seeking his death, in order to recognize the dignity of the human being instead of destroying it, one must travel a path opposed to that followed by Herod.
It’s not an easy path. It’s not enough to listen to the call of the heart; you must get going, expose yourself, run risks. The final gesture of the Magi is sublime. They don’t kill the child, but adore him. They respectfully bow down before his dignity; they discover the divine in the human. This is the message of their adoration of God’s Son incarnate in the child of Bethlehem.
We can also catch a glimpse of the symbolic meaning of the gifts they offer. With the gold, they recognize the dignity and inestimable value of the human being; everything should be subordinated to his happiness; a child deserves to have placed at his feet all the riches of the world. The incense captures the desire that this child’s life would spread out and his dignity be raised up to heaven: every human being is called to participate in God’s very life. The myrrh is medicine to cure sickness and relieve suffering: the human being needs care and consolation, not violence and aggression.
With his attention to the weak and his kindness toward the humbled, this Child born in Bethlehem will introduce to the world the magic of love, the only force of salvation that from now on makes the powerful Herod tremble.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf