This Sunday’s readings include St. Matthew’s account of the visit of the magi, which I’ve blogged about here.
When I was at Mass, I was struck by the ending of the gospel reading:
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way [Mt. 2:12].
This reminded me of something that I think is worth mentioning.
We often think of the warning as being one to protect the Baby Jesus–to keep Herod from finding out precisely who and where he was–and it certainly was this.
But there is another dimension that is easier to overlook: It was also a warning to the magi themselves.
What would have happened if they had returned to Herod?
He would have immediately asked who the child was and where he was located.
They would then have the choice of either telling him or refusing to do so.
If the former, they would be complicit in the murder of the very Child they had come to honor, so they would not want to do that.
But if they don’t tell him, what would Herod do?
In that order.
So while the magi definitely cooperated with God’s will by going back to their own country by another road, they weren’t only protecting the Baby Jesus.
They were also protecting themselves.