...ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Luke 2: 9b-12
I usually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about money, but recently I’ve been gathering tax forms, bank balances, mortgage payments, and retirement information as part of my son’s college application process. For the first time, I am looking at the Magi’s story in terms of money.
There is very little information about these visitors in scripture, not even how many came or where they were from. Traditions vary the number (3-12, with 3 the most common today) and where they called home (Persia, India, Yemen?). Were they kings or Zoroastrian priests? Astrologers/astronomers? No one knows, exactly, and traditions contradict one another. But whatever their names, whatever their number, wherever their homeland, these magi spent a considerable fortune to find the infant king. So much treasure just to kneel in the dirt in front of Jesus and Mary. What did they get in return? Only overwhelming joy and a chance to find God-with-Us in a poor house in a strange land.
I’m sure their finances would never be what they might have been had they just stayed home. I’m sure some of their neighbors thought they squandered their fortunes for nothing. But home in the biggest sense is where we find God, or God finds us. How much is it worth to be at home with God in an unknown town in a foreign land? Every penny they spent and more. Given the chance, I hope I manage my money just as wisely.