The Magi: Watchfulness and Action

"The Nativity" (Gerburt Christi detail) by Franz von Rohden

“The Nativity” (Gerburt Christi detail) by Franz von Rohden

As Christians, we are very familiar with Advent as a season of waiting, but really, our whole life is, essentially, a long season of waiting. Particularly, we wait for the last Advent—the last coming of Christ at the end of time. Every Advent gives us the opportunity to pause, and very intentionally focus on what we should be doing every day of our lives—preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ. How are we spending our time in waiting? 

Let’s talk about the characters of the nativity, since there is really a lifetime’s worth of study and beauty that we can glean from diving deeper into the mystery of the great Christmas narrative through the experiences of the dynamic characters in play – Joseph and Mary, the Infant Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, the magi, and, as a whole, the Holy Family. The characters of the nativity can each teach us lessons for living our own lives in preparation for Christ’s coming this December, as well as for our own death and Christ’s coming at the end of time.

In this article, I will explore some of the lessons for living from the magi.


The Characters of the Nativity and Their Lessons for Living—The Magi Watchfulness and Action

The magi were commonly thought of as astronomers, charting and tracking the stars and looking for heavenly bodies as predictors of earthly events. In the Old Testament, the term “wise men” is used in place of magi. What is it that made these men wise, as opposed to purely superstitious?

First Lesson

They have this lesson for living to teach us: watchfulness.

The magi had a desire to know truth and were watchful for God’s presence and for His plan, for a spiritual lesson to glean from their attentiveness to His movements in time and in their lives. That watchfulness opened the door for them to come face to face with the Savior. How often do we get so caught up in our lives—our family situations, our jobs, our medical problems, day to day tasks and chores, that we fail to be truly watchful, focused, and attentive on God’s presence and on His will for our lives? Do you allow our worries, responsibilities, and other things to distract you from the way God is working in you? These distractions are keeping you from meeting Jesus in an intimate way this Advent and on a regular basis in your life.

Take a moment to think about something in your life that is burdensome or distracting to you in some way. Maybe a relationship or a problem at work or a medical condition is keeping you from seeing how God is working—not necessarily in spite of that obstacle—but through that very obstacle, to make you a holier person this Advent.

Second Lesson

Their second lesson is related to the first: action.

The magi didn’t just see the star of Bethlehem and say, “how nice.” They got up and they followed it! And their journey wasn’t nearly as comfortable as many of our journeys are these days with our ease of modern travel. But that didn’t matter to them. They knew they needed to take action.

Is there an area in your life where you are failing to take action right now when God may be calling you to move, to do, to change, to act? Maybe it’s in regard to that obstacle we spoke about just a moment ago, that obstacle that God is trying to work through to make His will known to you. How can you not only recognize God working in that area of your life, but then take some action, on your own part, to cooperate with God’s will?


This article is the third in a series.

Check out Katie Warner’s exciting new book, Head and Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, August 2015).

Here’s what some other Catholic authors and leaders are saying about Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, foreword by Bishop James Conley (Emmaus Road Publishing):

“Read this book now and your children will thank you later.” (Steve Ray)

“Warner has drawn up a map we can read and follow, so that we all arrive at the goal [heaven], together with our families.” (Dr. Scott Hahn)

Head & Heart will help you take small steps toward building a vibrant Catholic identity in your home.” (Dr. Edward Sri)

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