Who are the Magi? In the context of today’s Gospel, these characters belong to a Persian priestly caste. In fact, during that period, in the city of Babylon, there existed a small group of astronomers who belonged to this caste and who could have calculated the astral conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces, which happened in the years 7-6 B.C.—now believed to be the actual time of Jesus’ birth (cf. The Infancy Narratives, pp. 92 & 94). Pope Benedict, in his study on the infancy of Jesus, mediates on the interior state of these Magi—“men of inner unrest, [men] of hope, [men] on the lookout for the true star of salvation” (cf. p. 95). The Pope highlights: “They were wise. They represent the inner dynamic of religion toward self-transcendence…” (p. 95) in search of truth, in search of the true God. “In a way, they are successors of Abraham, who set off on a journey in response to God’s call” (pp. 95-96).
Today, on the day of the monastic profession of Br. Fedele [now Br. Gregory], we can compare the Magi’s search to the monk’s search. Br. Fedele lacks knowledge in astronomy, but he has learned how to interpret the signs of our times. Even he is a man with inner unrest, a man of hope, on the lookout for salvation. Following in the steps of Abraham, following the call of God, he left Brazil, and he came to Italy to try a vocation with the Franciscans of the Immaculate, then he came to Norcia to become a Benedictine monk. Br. Fedele’s search corresponds to the requirement established by St. Benedict for becoming a monk: “if the novice truly searches God” (RB 58:7—si revera Deum quaerit. Just as the Magi, the monk leaves all in search for God.
But in the monastic life, there is a difference. It’s not just the monk who searches God—God, in fact, searches for the monk. In the Prologue to the Rule, God is described as a master in search for his laborer among the multitude: quaerens Dominus (prol 14). We are used to imagining the Magi in search of the star – but if the star were looking for the Magi? Imagine if he left his place in the heavens to chase his laborer around the world? This is precisely what the Son of God has done, leaving his divine glory to become man, to search and find that which was lost. Br. Fedele has been found by God, and for this, he presents himself here today for his monastic profession, even though they’re temporary, for a period of three years.
Giving oneself to God provokes a great joy in the heart of the person who offers his life to the Lord. The Magi, upon seeing the star, rejoiced exceedingly with a great joy (Mt 2:10) – gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde! As Pope Benedict comments: “It is the joy of one whose heart has received a ray of God’s light and who can now see that his hope has been realized—the joy of one who has found what he sought, and has himself been found” (Infancy Narratives, p. 106). This is the case for Br. Fedele and for all of us. Amen.
(Translated from the original Italian by B. Gonzalez.)