Adoration of the Magi.                                 Peter Paul Rubens

          

 POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Chapter 34.  The Adoration of the Wise Men.

 

     "My internal voice warns me:

     "Call the contemplations you are about to receive and which I will tell you, 'The Gospels of faith', because they will clarify for you and other people the power of faith and its fruits and will confirm you in the faith in God."

     I see Bethlehem, small and white, gathered like a brood of chickens under the stars...it is night.  There is nobody in the streets, as it is so late.

     I notice that the night light is increasing; it descends from a sky crowded with stars, which are so beautiful in the eastern sky:  they are so bright and large and seemingly so near that it is possible to reach out and touch those flowers sparkling in the velvet of the vault of Heaven.  I raise my eyes to see the source of the increasing light.  A star of such unusual size that the moon seems small in comparison, is moving forward in the sky of Bethlehem.  And all the others seem to vanish and make room for it, as maidservants do when their queen passes by:  its brightness is such that it outshines them all.  From the sphere, which looks like a huge pale sapphire lit up internally by a sun, a trail departs in which blond topazes, green emeralds, opalescent opals, blood-red flashes of rubies and gentle sparklings of amethysts mingle with the prevailing pale sapphire.  All the stones on earth are in the trail that sweeps the sky with a fast and undulating movement as if it were alive.  But the prevailing color is the one emanating from the globe of the star:  the heavenly pale sapphire hue which comes down and makes the houses, the streets, the ground of Bethlehem, the Savior's cradle, look like blue silver.  It is no longer the poor town, which by our standards is smaller than a country village.  It is a fantastic town of a fairy tale, all in silver.  And the water of the fountains and of the vessels is liquid diamond.

     And with a brighter radiation of light the star stops over the little house on the narrowest side of the square.  Neither the people dwelling in it, nor the people in Bethlehem see it, because they are all asleep in their closed houses, but the star quickens its shining pulsations and the trail vibrates and wavers faster and faster drawing a kind of semicircle in the sky.  And the sky lights up because of the net of stars drawn by the trail, a net full of precious jewels which shine and color all the other stars with the most graceful hues, as if they were communicating their own joy to them.

     The little house is transfigured by the liquid fire of gems.  The roof of the small terrace, the dark stone steps, the little door, are like a block of pure silver sprayed with diamond and pearl dust.  No royal palace on earth has ever had or ever will have a staircase like this one, built to be used by angels and by a Mother Who is the Mother of God.  The little feet of the Immaculate Virgin can alight on that white splendor, the little feet which are destined to rest on the steps of God's throne.

     But the Virgin does not know.  She is awake near Her Son's cradle and is praying.  There are splendors in Her soul which outdo the splendor with which the star is decorating material things.

     From the main road a cavalcade is approaching.  Harnessed horses are led by hand, dromedaries and camels bear riders or are carrying loads.  Their hooves make the sound of water that rustles and breaks against the stones of a torrent.  When they reach the square, they all stop.  The cavalcade, lit up by the star, is a fantasy of splendor.  The harnesses of the most rich mounts, the clothes of the riders, their faces, their baggage, everything shines and the light of the star increases the splendor of metals, leathers, silks, gems, coats.  Eyes are radiant and mouths smiling because another splendor shines in their hearts:  the splendor of a supernatural joy.

     While the servants move towards the carvansary with the animals, three members of the caravan dismount from their mounts, which a servant takes away at once, and they walk towards the house.  And they prostrate themselves, touching the ground with their foreheads, to kiss the soil.  They are three personages of power as is quite obvious from their very rich attire.  One of them, of a very dark complexion, who dismounts from a camel, envelops himself in a sciamma (Ethiopian garment) of pure bright silk, held tight to his waist by a precious girdle, from which a dagger or sword hangs with a jewel-studded hilt.  Of the other two, who dismount from two splendid horses, one is wearing a beautiful striped robe, the dominant color of which is yellow, fashioned like a long domino with hood and cordon, which looks like a piece of gold filigree owing to the very rich golden embroidery.  The third one is wearing a silk shirt puffing out of long large trousers, narrow at the ankles.  He is enveloped in a very fine shawl which resembles a flowery garden, so bright are the flowers decorating it.  On his head he has a turban held by a little chain covered with diamond settings.

     After venerating the house where the Savior is, they rise and go to the caravansary (square and hotel for caravans) where the servants have knocked and had the door opened.

     And the vision ends here.  It starts again, three hours later, with the scene of the Magi adoring Jesus.

     It is daytime now.  The sun is shining in the afternoon sky.  One of the servants of the three Magi crosses the square and climbs the steps of the little house.  He goes in.  He comes out and goes back to the hotel.

     The three Magi come out, each followed by his own servant.  They cross the square.  The occasional passers-by turn round to look at the stately personages who are walking very slowly and solemnly.  A full quarter of an hour has elapsed since the servant came out and thus the inhabitants of the little house have had time to prepare to receive the guests.

     The Magi are even more richly dressed than the night before.  Their silks shine, the gems sparkle, a big bunch of precious feathers, covered with even more precious chips, quivers and shines on the head of the Wise Man wearing the turban.

     One of the servants is carrying an inlaid coffer, the metal reinforcements of which are all engraved gold; the second servant is holding a beautifully wrought chalice covered with a pure gold lid which is even more finely finished; the third servant has a kind of wide low amphora, also in gold, the cover of which is shaped like a pyramid at the top of which there is a diamond.  The gifts appear to be heavy, because the servants are carrying them with some effort, particularly the one with the coffer.

     The Magi climb the steps and go in.  They enter a room that extends from the road to the back of the house.  The little kitchen garden at the back can be seen though a window which is open to the sun.  There are doors in the other two walls, and the owners, that is a man, a woman and some boys and younger children cast sidelong glances through them.

     Mary is sitting with the Child in Her lap and Joseph is standing near Her.  But She also gets up and bows when She sees the Magi entering.  She is all dressed in white.  She is so beautiful in Her plain white dress which covers Her from Her neck down to Her feet, from Her shoulders to Her slender wrists.  She is so beautiful with Her head crowned with Her blond plaits, Her face more rosy for the emotion, with Her eyes smiling so sweetly while Her mouth gives a greeting: "May God be with you", that the three Magi stop for a moment, completely astonished.  They then proceed and prostrate themselves at Her feet.  And they ask Her to sit down.

     They do not sit down, although She asks them to do so.  They remain kneeling, relaxing on their heels.  Behind them, also on their knees, are the three servants.  They are immediately after the threshold.  They have placed three gifts they were carrying in front of the Magi, and now they are waiting.

     The three Wise Men contemplate the Child, Who I think must be nine to twelve months old.  He is so lively and strong.  He is sitting on His Mother's lap and smiles and prattles with a shrill voice like a little bird.  He is all dressed in white like His Mother, with tiny sandals on His little feet.  His dress is a very simple one: a small tunic, from which His restless feet protrude, and His plump little hands which would like to get hold of everything, and above all, a most beautiful little face in which two dark blue eyes shine, and a pretty mouth with dimples at the sides shows its first tiny teeth when it smiles.  His pretty little curls are so bright and soft that they seem gold dust.

     The oldest of the Magi speaks on behalf of them all.  He explains to Mary that one night the previous December, they saw a new star of an unusual brightness appear in the sky.  The maps of the sky had never shown or mentioned such a star.  Its name was unknown because it had no name.  Born out of the bosom of God, it had flourished to tell men a blessed truth, a secret of God.  But men had not paid any attention to it, because their souls were steeped in mud.  They did not lift their eyes to God neither could they read the words that He writes with stars of fire in the vault of Heaven.  May He be blessed for ever.

     They had seen it and had striven to understand its meaning.  They were happy to give up the little sleep they usually granted themselves and forgetting even their food, they devoted themselves entirely to studying the zodiac.  And the conjunctions of the stars, the time, the season, the calculation of the hours passed and of the astronomic combinations had told them the name and secret of the star.  Its name: "Messiah".  Its secret: "The Messiah had come to our world."  And they had set out to worship Him.  Each of them unknown to the others.  Over mountains, across deserts, along valleys and rivers, travelling by night they had come towards Palestine, because the star was moving in that direction.  Each of them unknown to the others.  For each of them, from three different points on earth, it was going in that direction.  And then they met beyond the Dead Sea.  God's will had gathered them there, and they then proceeded together, understanding one another, notwithstanding that each spoke his own language: by a miracle of the Eternal Father they were able to understand and speak the language of each country.

     They had gone together to Jerusalem, because the Messiah was to be the King of Jerusalem, the King of the Jews.  But over the sky of that city, the star had concealed itself and they felt their hearts breaking with pain and had examined themselves to ascertain whether they had failed to deserve God.  But when their consciences reassured them, they had applied to king Herod and had asked him in which royal palace the King of the Jews was born because they had come to adore Him.  And the king had gathered the chief priests and the scribes and had asked them where the Messiah might be born.  And they replied: "In Bethlehem, in Judah.".

     And they had come towards Bethlehem and as soon as they left the Holy City, the star had reappeared to them, and the night before their arrival in Bethlehem its brightness had increased;  the whole sky was ablaze.  Then the star had stopped over this house engulfing all the light of the other stars in its ray.  And they had understood that the Divine New-Born Baby was there.  And now they were worshipping Him, offering their gifts, and above all, their hearts, which never cease thanking God for the grace granted to them;  neither would they ever stop loving His Son Whose holy human body they had now seen.  Later they intened to go back to king Herod, because he also wanted to adore Him.

     In the meantime, here is the gold which befits a king to possess, here is the incense which befits a God, and here, Mother, here is the myrrh because Your Child is a Man as well as God and He will experience the bitterness of the flesh and of human life as well as the inevitable law of death.  Our souls, full as they are of love, would prefer not to utter those words and we would rather think that His flesh is also eternal as His Spirit.  But, Woman, if our writings and above all our souls are right, He is Your Son, the Savior, the Christ of God and consequently, to save the world, He will have to take upon Himself the evil of the world, of which one of the punishments is death.  This myrrh is for that hour.  That His holy flesh may not be subject to the rot of putrefaction, but may preserve its integrity until its resurrection.  And on account of this gift, may He remember us and save His servants by allowing them to enter His Kingdom.  In the meantime that we may be sanctified, will You, Mother, trust Your Little One to our love.  That His heavenly blessing may descend upon us, while we kiss His feet."

    Mary, Who has overcome the fright caused by the words of the Wise Man, and has hidden with a smile the sadness of the doleful allusion, offers the Child.  She lays Him in the arms of the oldest one, who kisses Him and receives His caress, and he then hands Him over to the other two. 

     Jesus smiles and plays with the little chains and fringes of the robes of the three Magi and He looks curiously at the open coffer, full of a yellow sparkling substance, and He smiles at the rainbow produced by the sun shining on the brilliant top of the lid of the myrrh.

     They then hand back the Child to Mary and they stand up.  Mary also gets up.  They bow to one another, after the youngest has given an order to the servant, who goes out.  The three Men go on speaking for a little while.  They cannot make up their minds to depart from the house.  Tears shine in their eyes.  At last they move towards the door, accompanied by Mary and Joseph.

     The Child waned to get down and give His hand to the oldest of the three, and He walks thus, held by His hands by Mary and the Wise Man, both of whom bend down to steady Him.  Jesus walks with a hesitant step, like all children, and He laughs kicking His little feet on the strip of the floor lit up by the sun.

     When they reach the threshold--it must not be forgotten that the room is as long as the house--the Magi take leave kneeling down once again kissing Jesus' feet.  Mary, bending down over the Child, takes His hand and guides it, in a blessing gesture over the head of each Wise Man.  It is already a sign of the cross, traced by Jesus' little fingers, guided by Mary.

     The three Men go down the steps.  The caravan is already there waiting for them.  The horses' studs shine in the setting sun.  People have gathered in the little square watching the unusual sight.

     Jesus laughs clapping His hands.  His Mother has lifted Him up on the wide parapet of the landing and is holding Him against Her breast with Her arm so that He may not fall.  Joseph has gone down with the Magi and is holding the stirrup to each of them while they mount their horses and the camel.

     Servants and masters are now all on horseback.  The starting command is given.  The three Men bow down as low as the necks of their mounts in a final gesture of homage.  Joseph bows down.  Also Mary bows and then She guides Jesus' hand again in a gesture of goodbye and blessing.

     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Jesus says:

     And now what shall I tell you, o souls who feel your faith is dying?  Those Wise Men from the East had nothing to assure them of the truth.  Nothing supernatural.  All they had was an astronomic calculaton and their own considerations made perfect by a strictly honest life.  And yet they had faith.  Faith in everything: in science, in their own conscience, in God's goodness.

     Science made them believe in the sign of the new star, which could only be "the one" expected by mankind for centuries: the Messiah.  Because of their consciences they had faith in the voices of their consciences, which heard heavenly "voices" saying to them: "That is the star announcing the advent of the Messiah".  Because of God's goodness, they believed that God would not deceive them, and since their intention was honest, He would help them in every way to reach their aim.

     And they were successful.  Among so many people fond of studying signs, they were the only ones who understood that sign, because their souls were anxious to know the words of God for an honest purpose, the main care of which was to praise and honor God immediately.

     They did not seek any personal advantage.  On the contrary, they have to face hardships and meet expenses but they do not ask for any human reward.  They only ask God to remember them and save them for eternal life. 

     As they have no desire for any future human rewards, so they have no human worry, when they decide on their journey.  You would have had hundreds of problems: "How will I be able to make such a long journey in countries and among peoples speaking different languages?  Will they believe me or will they put me in prison as a spy?  What help will they give me to cross the deserts, rivers and mountains?  And the heat?  And the winds of the highlands?  And the malarial fever along stagnant marshes?  And the floods and heavy rains?  And the different food?  And the different languages?  And ... and... and..."  That is how you reason.  But they do not reason like that.  With sincere, holy daring they say: "You, o God, can read our hearts and You see the purpose we are aiming at.  We trust to Your hands.  Grant us the superhuman joy of adoring Your Second Person, Who has become Flesh to save the world."

     That is all.  And they set out from the far away Indies.  Jesus then tells me that when He says the Indies, He means meridional Asia where Turkey, Afghanistan and Persia are located in our geography.  From the Mongolian chains of mountains which are the dominions of eagles and vultures, where God speaks with roars of winds and torrents and writes words of mystery on the immense pages of glaciers.  From the land where the Nile rises and then flows with its green blue waters to the azure heart of the Mediterranean, neither mountains, nor woods, nor sands, dry oceans more dangerous than the seas, can stop them from proceeding.  And the star shines upon them at night, preventing them from sleeping.  When one seeks God, natural habits must yield to superhuman considerations and necessities.

     The star guides them from the north, the east and the south, and by a miracle of God, it proceeds for the three of them towards one point.  And by another miracle of God, after many miles it gathers them at that point and by a further miracle, it anticipates the Pentecost Wisdom, bestowing on them the gift of understanding and making themselves understood, as it happens in Paradise, where only one language is spoken: God's.

     They are dismayed only for a moment, when the star disappears and since they are humble, because they are really great, they do not think it is due to the wickedness of other people, as the corrupted people of Jerusalem did not deserve to see the star of God.  But they think they had failed to deserve God themselves, and they examine themselves with trepidation and contrition ready to beg forgiveness.

     But their consciences reassure them.  Their souls were accustomed to meditation and each of them had a most sensitive conscience, refined by constant attention, and by sharp introspection, which made of the interior a mirror on which even the slightest faults of daily actions are reflected.  Their conscience has become their teacher, a voice that warns and cries not at the least error, but at the least inclination towards errors, at everything human, at the satisfaction of one's "ego".  Consequently, when they place themselves before that teacher and that severe clean mirror, they know that it will not lie.  It reassures them and gives them heart.

     "Oh! How sweet it is to feel that there is nothing against God in us!  To feel that He is kindly looking at the soul of His faithful son and blesses him.  Faith, trust, hope, strength and patience are increased by such a feeling.  The storm is raging just now.  But it will pass, because God loves me and He knows that I love Him, and He will not fail to help me again."  That is how those speak who enjoy the peace that comes from an upright conscience, that is the queen of every action of theirs.

     I said that they were "humble because they were really great."  What happens, instead, in your lives?  There a man is never humble not because he is great, but because he is more domineering and makes himself mighty by means of his arrogance and because of your silly idolatry.  There are some wretched men who, simply because they are the butlers of some overbearing fellow, or ushers in some office, or officials in some small village, that is, servants of those who employed them, put on the airs of demigods.  And they arouse pity!...

     The three Wise Men were really great.  Firstly, because of their supernatural virtues, secondly because of their science, last because of their wealth.  But they feel that they are nothing: dust on the dust of the earth, in comparison with the Most High God, Who with a smile creates the worlds and scatters them like grains of corn to satisfy the eyes of the angels with the jewels of the stars.

     They feel they are a mere nothing as compared to the Most High God Who created the planet on which they live and He made it most varied.  An Infinite Sculptor of boundless works, with a touch of His thumb, He placed a ring of hills here, the bone structure of mountain ridges and peaks there, like vertebrae of the earth, of this enormous body, the veins of which are the rivers, it basins the lakes, its hearts the oceans, its dresses the forests, its veils the clouds, its decorations the crystal glaciers, its gems the turquoises and emeralds, the opals and the beryls of all the waters that sing, with the woods and the winds, the great chorus of praise to their Lord.

    But they feel they are nothing with regard to their wisdom as compared to the Most High God, from Whom their wisdom comes and Who gave them more powerful eyes than those two pupils by means of which they see things: the eyes of their souls, which know how to read in things the word not written by human hands, but engraved by God's thought.

    And they feel they are nothing with regard to their wealth: an atom as compared to the wealth of the Owner of the universe, Who scatters metals and gems in the stars and planets and grants super-natural unexhausted riches to the hearts of those who love Him.

     And when they arrive before the poor house, in the poorest town in Judah, they do not shake their heads saying: "Impossible", but they bend their backs, their knees, and above all their hearts and they adore.  There, behind that poor wall, there is God.  The God they have always invoked, but never had the least hope of seeing.  And they invoke Him for the welfare of all mankind, and "their" eternal welfare.  Oh! that was their only wish.  To see Him, know Him, possess Him in the life where there are no more dawns and sunsets!

     He is there, behind that poor wall.  Will His heart of a Child, which is still the heart of a God, perceive those three hearts, which prostrated in the dust of the road are crying: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Blessed the Lord our God.  Glory to Him in the Highest Heaven and peace to His servants.  Glory, glory, glory and blessings."?

     They are wondering with loving tremor.  And during the whole night and the following morning they prepare with the most ardent prayer their souls for the communion with the Child-God.

     They do not go to that altar, which is the virginal lap holding the Divine Host, with their souls full of human worries, as you do.  They forget to eat and to sleep, and if they wear the most beautiful robes, it is not for human ostentation, but to honor the King of kings.  In royal palaces the dignitaries wear the most beautiful clothes.  And should the Magi not go to that King in their best garments"  Which greater opportunity is there for them?

     Oh! In their far away countries, many a time they had to adorn themselves for men like themselves.  To welcome and honor them.  It is only fair, therefor, that they should prostrate purples and jewels, silks, and precious feathers at the feet of the Supreme King.  It is fair to put at His sweet little feet the fibres of the earth, the gems of the earth, the feathers of the earth, the metals of the earth--they are all His work--so that all these things of the earth may adore their Creator.  And they would be happy if the Little Creature should order them to lie down on the ground and become a living carpet for His little baby steps, and if He trampled on them, since He left the stars to come down to them, who are but dust.

     They were humble, generous and obedient to the "voices" from Above.  They tell them to take gifts to the New-Born King.  And they take gifts.  They do not say: "He is rich and does not need them.  He is God and will not die".  They obey.  And they are the first to help the Savior in His poverty.  How useful that gold will be for Him Who is about to be a fugitive!  How meaningful that myrrh is for Him Who will soon be killed!  How pious that incense is for Him Who will have to smell the stench of human lewdness raging round His infinite purity!

     They were humble, generous, obedient and respectful to one another.  Virtues always generate other virtues.  From the virtues directed to God, derive the virtues regarding our neighbors.  Respect, which is charity.  The oldest is entrusted with the task of speaking on behalf of them all, he is the first to receive the Savior's kiss and to hold Him by His little hand.  The others will be able to see Him again.  He will not, because he is old and the day for his return to God is not far away.  He will see Christ after His heart-rending death and will follow Him, together with the other blessed souls, in His return to Heaven.  But he will never see Him again in this world.  May, therefor, the warmth of His little hand entrusted to his wrinkled one, be a viaticum for him.

     There is no envy in the others.  On the contrary, their veneration for the old Wise Man increases.  He certainly deserved more than they did, and for a longer period of time.  The God-Infant knows. The Word of the Father does not speak yet, but every action of His is a word.  And may His innocent word be blessed, because it designated him as His favorite.

     But, My dear children, there are two more lessons in this vision.

     The behavior of Joseph who knows how to keep "his" place.  He is present as the guardian of Purity and Holiness.  But not as the usurper of their rights.  It is Mary with Jesus who receives the homage and the words.  Joseph rejoices because of Her and does not grieve becuase he is a secondary figure.  Joseph is a just man: he is the Just Man.  And he is always just.  Also at the present moment.  The fumes of the feast do not go to his head.  He remains humble and just.

     He is happy for the gifts.  Not for himself, but because he thinks that with them he will be able to make his Spouse's and the sweet Child's lives more comfortable.  There is no greed in Joseph.  He is a workman and will continue to work.  But he is anxious that "They", his two loves, should be more comfortable.  Neither he nor the Magi know that those gifts serve for a flight and a life in exile, when riches vanish like clouds scattered by winds, as well as for their return to their country, where they have lost everything, customers and household furnishings, and where only the walls of their house have been saved, which were protected by God, because there He was united to the Virgin and became Flesh.

     Joseph is humble, in fact, although he is the guardian of God and of the Mother of God and Spouse of the Most High, he holds the stirrups of these vassals of God.  He is a poor carpenter, because sustained human pressures have deprived David's heirs of their royal wealth.  But he is always the offspring of a king, and has the manners of a king.  Also of him it must be said: "He was humble, because he was really great".

     A last, kind, significant lesson.

     It is Mary who takes the hand of Jesus, Who does not yet know how to bless, and She guides it in the holy gesture.

     It is always Mary who takes Jesus' hand and guides it.  Even now.  Now Jesus knows how to bless.  But sometimes His pierced hand falls down tired and disheartened, because He knows that it is useless to bless.  You destroy My blessing.  It falls also indignant, because you curse Me. It is Mary then Who removes the disdain from My hand with Her kisses.  Oh! the kiss of My Mother!  Who can resist that kiss?  And then, with Her slender, but lovingly irrestible fingers, She takes My wrist and forces Me to bless.  I cannot reject My Mother, but you must go to Her, and make Her your Advocate.

     She is My Queen, before being yours, and Her love for you makes such allowances that no one can possibly imagine or understand.  And even without any word, but only with Her tears, and the memory of My Cross, the sign of which She makes Me trace in the air, She pleads your cause and exhorts Me:  "You are the Savior. Therefor save."

     That is, My dear children, the "Gospel of faith" in the vision of the scene of the Magi.  Meditate on it and imitate it.  For your own good."

Written by Maria Valtorta

http://valtorta.org/

Copyright 1986 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy.  All rights reserved in all countries.

 
 

© 2010 Valtorta Publishing. All rights reserved.