There is a legend that says the wise men from the gospel nativity story were of three different ages. Caspar was a very young man, Balthazar was in his middle age, and Melchior was an old man. When they arrived in Bethlehem they went to the cave of the Savior’s birth and once there they went in one at a time.
When Melchior, the old man, went into the cave, there was no one there but a very old man his own age with whom he was quickly at home. They spoke together of memory and gratitude. The middle-age Balthazar encountered a middle-aged teacher when he went into the cave, and they talked passionately of leadership and responsibility. When young Caspar entered, he met a young prophet and they spoke words of reform and promise.
When they had all gone outside after going in one by one, the three of them took their gifts and went in together. This time, when they went in, there was nobody but a twelve-day-old infant. Later on they understood. The Savior speaks to every stage of life. The old hear the call to integrity and wisdom. The middle-aged hear the call to generativity and responsibility. And the young hear the call to identity and intimacy.
The Savior speaks to every stage of life. At different times in my ministry I have heard people talk about different times in their lives when they felt closer to God and more engaged in their faith and how they now wish they could “get back” to that time. I wonder – is the goal to get back to a certain time and experience or is it to discover, anew, who Christ is for us now, today? Maybe the reason we cannot get back to a previous experience of God and faith is not because God is no longer there but because we are no longer there. We have changed, our world has changed – we must discover anew who Christ is for us today. The Savior speaks to every stage of life. This is the wisdom of the wise men.
Further, the wise men teach us another lesson – they show us the method of how to find out who Christ is for us when we are searching. We bring to God the gifts of who we are – the gold of the blessings and joys of our lives, the frankincense of our prayers and faith (no matter how simple and small), the myrrh of our sufferings and pains. When we bring these gifts in humility and trust to Christ, He will show us who He is for us today.