19. Three Wise Fools and Me

Gabriel confessed. "I'm sorry, I got carried away. I do have a job for you, a very important one. I need you to take this star to the manger for me. You will lead the magi while I go on ahead. Don't go too fast, especially while Faisal is following you and the men are packing."

"Gabriel, uh...where is this manger?" I replied.

"Go to 31.704274° N, and 35.207330° E , you can't miss it." With that Gabriel tossed me the star-like object and flew off as if leaving me with the children. I didn't even have a chance to say good bye or to complain.

I hovered there awkwardly holding the star and scouring the horizon in vain for Gabriel. Then I looked down at Faisal staring up at my star. Of all the craziness I have experienced on this planet, this moment could win the award for the most absurd.

I wondered how Gabriel found these Persians and managed to convince them to go on such a long and dangerous journey, and why?

Why would they want to pay homage to an infant so far away? What good could a baby do for them? He isn't ever going to reign over them. These Persians are barbarians who have nothing in common with Jews. How in the world did Gabriel convince them to leave home and family and friends to subject themselves to another kingdom?

I wondered what they will think when they find out that I am taking them to a barn. I wonder if they will still turn over their gifts. Then it occurred to me that possibly these men make a habit of going around the world worshipping every poor sop they think will be a king some day. How could anyone call these Wise Men? They are more like fools. Then I came to my senses.

Perhaps I was the fool. Haven't I learned by now to let God do whatever deranged thing He wants to do, and wait to watch it become absolutely brilliant.

I woke up from my daydream to look down and see Faisal still staring up at my star with his mouth wide open. I thought I should try to get him out of his trance so I moved ever so slowly southwest. Sure enough, he moved with me! Then I decided to have a little fun and went east for a mile and then west, then back toward where we began. hahaha. This could be entertaining, except that listening to his loud bell ringing began to grate on me. So I stopped teasing him.

Finally Balthazar showed up. Faisal quickly handed over the bell, and bid him fare well explaining that the wives would worry about him being gone so long.

Soon after, Gaspar, then Melchior found Balthazar ringing the bell. Typically, on long journeys such as this one, I had seen servants form a traveling entourage, but with not this group. These three men were on their own, bringing nothing but their camels and a few satchels.

Being as anxious to arrive as they were, I calculated the shortest route and headed straight there. Having to go so slow was maddening. But it explained why The Lord allowed me to have my fling the other day. This slow and steady march to Bethlehem was unusually quiet. Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior, simply headed wherever the star and I lead them.

Remembering that humans must eat and sleep, they stopped from time to time and I stopped too. For the first few days, they took turns sleeping while their camels walked and another held the lead. I taught them that I would stop for 6 hours every night. That was maddening too. How I wanted to take a break as well and fly my somersaults, but I didn't know where to put my star, and didn't want to create a frightening light show. Soon, the three kings learned that the star would let them sleep. How I wish I could have swooped them up and flown them to Bethlehem.

One day I overheard them talking, "Balthazar," said Melchior "how does your astrology tell you that the star is taking us to an infant king?"

"It doesn't!" replied Balthazar indignantly. "Stars don't tell you who is born, but from the hour when man is born what will befall him."

"I thought this was your idea. How did we come to this?"

Gaspar chimed in. "Be still, my friends. Haven't you noticed, that this is not a star anyway? Stars don't shine during the day, and we can see it clearly, day and night. When we move, it moves and when we stop, it stops. My friends, Ahura Masda, our god of truth and light spoke to me in a dream; he is guiding us and we will soon see our reward."

Silence followed for quite some time as the men walked and rode their camels and as I, carrying the star, moved ever so slowly across plains and over the mountains. I felt so sorry for the men and animals. It was such a difficult journey and their food was sparse. I wondered what kind of determination would drive these men to continue their struggle. Then I looked at my star. It glowed even brighter in the daylight than in the night, with such a warm and alluring light, that I imagined it calling them to follow and to endure.

After what seemed to me to be centuries later, we arrived in Jerusalem where I spotted Gabriel.

He saw us and with great cheer in his voice said, "Welcome! You made it! Congratulations, I wasn't sure you would. How was the journey?"

It really is too bad that one can't slug an angel. Well, you can try but it won't do any good. It would go right through him. The first thing I did though was to toss the star to him.

He caught it easily and said, "Let's go, I have a reward for you!"

"What!!!" I replied. "We aren't even in Bethlehem yet! This is Jerusalem."

"Yes, yes I know that." answered Gabriel who blew on the star and extinguished it! "Let's leave these men for a while. I have assigned another angel to take them to King Herod, to rouse him up against the infant Jesus. Don't worry, it's all part of the plan."

Angels don't cry either. But I never wanted more to be able to do so. After that long, grueling and dusty journey, to suddenly be called away....in order to jeopardize the life of my soon to be born Lord-God was the most flabbergasting thing I could imagine.

Angels know this. Hierarchy establishes order, and obedience is the first rule of hierarchy. I know that. I also know that if I am patient and trust God, every confusing thing will become clear. So with all my emotional strength I took a few flying flings through the air and returned to Gabriel who waited for me. Before leaving, I looked down at my men fondly. This was the first time I had ever come close to being a guardian angel. I would miss them.

"Stop fretting, you'll be back. Come on, let's go. There's no time to waste! Christ is about to be born and I have one more assignment for you! In a brief moment of disobedience, I returned to my men and wafted my way through them, hoping to bless them with the wisdom they would surely need when they meet Herod.

"Gabriel, please tell me why I had to bring these men all the way from Persia to Jerusalem. It was such a grueling journey for all of us. I think I deserve to know."

Gabriel responded compassionately, "You are right, I will tell you. The Jews, are a bull headed rebellious people who rarely believe their own prophets. Why God cherishes them so I will never understand, but He clearly does. For the same reason that they killed their prophets and from time to time went off worshipping idols, God knows they would never believe the Christ Child, their Messiah, is born in a manger.

For this momentous occasion God is bringing people from outside of the tribes of His beloved Israel to testify to the birth of the Messiah. From His very birth Christ is calling Gentiles to worship the one true God.This is the reason my angelic friend. Now that doesn't seem so foolish does it? God made His point clear and universal by bringing in the unfamiliar, ignorant barbarians to be wiser than His own chosen people. He will always confound the wise, because He is infinitely smarter than they. Just as the sun comes from the east to illuminate the world, so God brought the wise men from the east to bring Holy Wisdom to His people, Israel. Those who have ears will hear, and those who have eyes will see."

See! God did it again!!!!! He made me, the most cynical angel this side of the great divide, feel foolish. I wonder what the reward is that Gabriel said he has for me.

Taken from Homilies on Matthew, by Saint John Chrysostom. Erdemens Press.