The Magi and Contemplation

magi at the manger

When the magi see the star and come to visit the Christ Child, they see the baby and fall down and worship God’s presence there. When I have prayed with this story imaginatively, my focus is rarely on the magi themselves. Almost inevitably my gaze turns to the baby Jesus. What could be more natural when there is a newborn infant in the room? When I was a young mother, I used to enjoy just watching my babies as they slept. While life in general was busy and sometimes exhausting, at that moment, there was no agenda other than the pure enjoyment of being together. I imagine that it was this way for the magi too, as they visited, contemplated the Christ Child, and then gave thanks.

Lately, I have been thinking about how we can contemplate other human beings. This past Christmas, I was blessed with being able to spend several days with family at my mother’s home in Florida. Although our family is small and spread out over the country, several of us traveled in order to be together. At the holidays, we don’t usually make a lot of formal plans but just let things unfold. Along with the opening of gifts and sharing in meals together, there was also a chance to go running in the Florida sunshine, a trip to the beach followed by tacos at an outdoor café, and a trip to pick up a new shelter dog that my mother and her husband adopted.

Among the biggest treats for me, however, was simply having both of my adult children home. Whether everyone was nestled in quietly reading a book or walking on the beach looking for seashells, I sometimes simply looked at my grown children and took time to admire the people that they are becoming. In contemplation, there is no agenda. There is no task to accomplish. There is only being together—and a willingness to look, listen, and let the other’s presence speak to our hearts.

Whenever we take time to contemplate God—whether we find God in the ocean waves, the beauty of fallen snow, the face of another human being, or the silence of wordless prayer—there is no agenda. The gift is the gift of pure presence. And afterwards, we give thanks for the gifts given.

Like the magi who visited Jesus, we also can take time to find God in setting aside our usual schedules and taking the time to contemplate.

How do you like to contemplate and find God in this season?

About Marina McCoy 71 Articles
Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College, where she teaches philosophy and in the BC PULSE service learning program. She is the author of Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2013). She and her husband are the parents to two young adults and live in the Boston area.
Contact: Website

2 Comments on The Magi and Contemplation

  1. I also enjoy watching my grown children spending time together and listening to the laughter in the room. I thank a God for our time together.

  2. Thank you for the reflection of “no agenda”. I hadn’t thought about it in that regard. I will be more aware of it and be grateful!

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