leo1Led then, dearly beloved, into Bethlehem by obeying the guidance of the star, the wise men “rejoiced with very great joy,” as the evangelist has told us:

“And entering the house, they found the child with Mary, His mother; and falling down they worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:10, 11).

What wondrous faith of perfect knowledge, which was taught them not by earthly wisdom, but by the instruction of the Holy Spirit!

Whence came it that these men, who had quitted their country without having seen Jesus, and had not noticed anything in His looks to enforce such systematic adoration, observed this method in offering their gifts?

Besides the appearance of the star which attracted their bodily eyes, the more refulgent rays of truth taught their hearts:

that, before they started on their toilsome road, they must understand that He was signified to Whom was owed in gold royal honour, in incense Divine adoration, in myrrh the acknowledgment of mortality.

Such a belief and understanding no doubt, as far as the enlightenment of their faith went, might have been sufficient in themselves and have prevented their using their bodily eyes in inquiring into that which they had beheld with their mind’s fullest gaze.

Their sagacious diligence, persevering till they found the child, did good service for future peoples and for the men of our own time.

Thus, as it profited us all that the apostle Thomas, after the Lord’s resurrection, handled the traces of the wounds in His flesh, so it was of advantage to us that His infancy should be attested by the visit of the wise men.

And so the wise men saw and adored the Child of the tribe of Judah, “of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3), “made from a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4), which He had come “not to destroy but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17).

They saw and adored the Child, small in size, powerless to help others, incapable of speech, and in nought different to the generality of human children.

Because, as the testimonies were trustworthy which asserted in Him the majesty of invisible Godhead, so it ought to be impossible to doubt that “the Word became flesh,” and the eternal essence of the Son of God took man’s true nature.

Neither the inexpressible marvels of his acts which were to follow nor the infliction of sufferings which He had to bear should be permitted to overthrow the mystery of our Faith by their inconsistency.

For no one at all can be justified save those who believe the Lord Jesus to be both true God and true Man.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 34, 3.