|Adoration of the Magi by Andrea Mantegna |
(First, a brief reflection on the image above to prepare for today's Pause for Prayer)
In Mantegna's painting, it's all in the eyes!
(Be sure to click on the image for a larger, more detailed version)
The magi offer the Child their gifts but they gaze up and off into the distance. Perhaps they're asking of the star they followed: Is this really the One to whom you've led us?
And Joseph... Joseph stands apart, keeping a wary eye on these wealthy visitors. Can you read his thoughts? How came they knocking on my door? Their gifts are so extravagant! What do these strangers want?
Not surprisingly, Mary, the loving Mother, keeps her eye on the child of her womb. Might she see in this unexpected visit the twists and turns her Son's life will take? And yet, see how she offers the child, holding him forth, already aware that she will, in the end, need to give him away to all who come looking for him...
The Child's eyes tell us clearly that he has no need of these fine offerings. He wants something else from each of us and what he desires comes neither in a coffer nor a cup ... What he desires comes only in our hearts...
O God, set my gaze on only that star
whose light leads me
on the path of your truth...
Child of Mary's womb,
apple of Joseph's eye,
welcome me when I come to you,
when I draw near to visit and to pray...
Teach me to make of my heart
the finest gift I have
to offer to you and others...
When I wonder
if I've have found or lost you,
deepen my faith
in your faithful pursuit of me,
of my life and my love...
Shine like a star, Lord, and show me
the beauty of your face:
let me never fail to find you and see you
in all I meet and know...
O star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright:
guide me to your perfect Light...
Here's a recording of the familiar "We Three Kings" followed by the lyrics. As you'll see, the hymn tells the story of not only the three gifts but also the story of Jesus from birth, to death, to resurrection.
1) We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar. Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star. O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.
2) Born a king on Bethlehem's plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again, King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign. 3) Frankincense to offer have I. Incense owns a Deity nigh. Prayer and praising men are raising, Worship Him, God on high. 4) Myrrh is mine: its bitter perfume Breathes a life of gathering gloom. Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb. 5) Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice. Alleluia, alleluia! Sounds through the earth and skies.
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