The Three Kings, The Star of Bethlehem

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Magi_Journeying_(Les_rois_mages_en_voyage)_-_James_Tissot_-_overallThe Three (?) Kings

Legend dating back to the early Middle Ages tells us the names of the Magi (The Three Kings) were Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar. However, Saint Matthew, in today’s Gospel account, does not specify the number or genders of the Magi. In India, they honor 12 Magi. The very vagueness of the identities of the Magi provides a universal approach to their mission of proclaiming God’s love for all peoples and calling upon all nations to respond to God’s great mercy and compassion.

The Star of Bethlehem

Some scholars say there was no star; no historical record, no astronomical evidence. However, according to the German astronomer/astrologer Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630), the star of Bethlehem can be explained both scientifically and historically. According to Kepler, the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which occurred circa 7 – 6 B.C. would have produced such a phenomenon, i.e. the illumination in Bethlehem’s sky. Was there a star in the sky? We do not know. Centuries ago, Saint Augustine thought it curious that foreigners had to come hundreds of miles to show the Jews a star in their own sky; that pagan priests had to tell the priests of God that their Savior was born. Moreover, perhaps the most amazing of all, the Jews gave the Magi directions but didn’t even bother to go with them. As disciples of Jesus, we must guard against becoming too wise, too busy, too dull, and too lifeless to our faith that all we do is sit back and point the way to salvation for wiser people.