The Adoration of the Magi
St. Alphonsus De Liguori
Jesus is born poor in a stable; the angels of heaven indeed acknowledge Him, but men abandon and forsake him on earth. Only a few shepherds come and pay him homage. But our Redeemer was desirous of communicating to us the grace of His redemption, and begins therefore to manifest Himself to the Gentiles, Who knew Him least. Therefore he sends a star to enlighten the holy Magi, in order that they may come and acknowledge and adore their Saviour. This was the first and sovereign grace bestowed upon us–our vocation to the faith; which was succeeded by our vocation to grace, of which men were deprived.
Behold the wise men, who immediately, without delay, set off upon their journey. The star accompanies them as far as the cavern where the holy Infant lies: on their arrival they enter; and what do they find? They found the child with Mary. They find a poor maiden and a poor Infant wrapped in poor swaddling-clothes, without anyone to attend on Him or assist Him. But, lo! on entering into the little shed these holy pilgrims feel a joy which they had never felt before; they feel their hearts chained to the dear little Infant which they behold. The straw, the poverty, the cries of their little Saviour–Oh, what darts of love! Oh, what blessed flames are they to their enlightened hearts ! The Infant looks upon them with a joyful countenance, and this is the mark of affection with which he accepts them amongst the first-fruits of His Redemption.
The holy kings then look at Mary, who does not speak –she remains silent; but with her blessed countenance that breathes the sweetness of paradise she welcomes them, and thanks them for having been the first to come and acknowledge Her son (as indeed He is) for their Sovereign Lord. See also how, out of reverence, they adore Him in silence, and acknowledge Him for their God, kissing His feet, and offering Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Let us also with the holy Magi adore our little King Jesus, and let us offer Him all our hearts.
Affections and Prayers
O amiable Infant! Though I see Thee in this cavern lying on straw poor and despised, yet faith teaches me that Thou art my God, who earnest down from heaven for my salvation. I acknowledge Thee, then, for my sovereign Lord and Saviour; but I have nothing, alas, to offer Thee. I have no gold of love, because I have loved creatures; I have loved my own caprices, but I have not loved Thee, O amiable infinite One! I have not the incense of prayer, because I have lived in a miserable state of forgetfulness of Thee. I have no myrrh of mortification, for I have often displeased Thy infinite goodness that I might not be deprived of my miserable pleasures. What then shall I offer Thee? I offer Thee my heart, filthy and poor as it is; do Thou accept it, and change it. Thou camest into the world for this purpose, to wash the hearts of men from their sins by Thy blood, and thus change them from sinners into saints. Give me, therefore, I pray Thee, this gold, this incense, and this myrrh. Give me the gold of Thy holy love; give me the spirit of holy prayer, give me the desire and strength to mortify myself in everything that displeases Thee. I am resolved to obey Thee and to love Thee; but Thou knowest my weakness, oh, give me the grace to be faithful to Thee! Most holy Virgin, thou who didst welcome with such affection and didst console the holy Magi, do thou welcome and console me also, who come to visit thy Son and to offer myself to him. O my Mother, I have great confidence in thy intercession! Do thou recommend me to Jesus. To thee do I intrust my soul and my will; bind it forever to the love of Jesus!