Read through today’s Gospel. Do you see any camels? Through the centuries, Christian artists have depicted countless scenes from the New Testament and the Old. Their starting point is a given passage and the description it offers. But many other images from the Bible swirl around in the imagination as well, as the artist approaches his or her medium. No doubt Matthew was aware of the passage from third Isaiah that we hear this Sunday, for he sees in the magi a fulfilment of prophecy. But he only includes the notion of kings from afar, and the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in his sketch. Many artists felt the need to include more details, to let the viewer know that these kings came from afar. The means of transportation? Back to Isaiah – let’s put camels in the painting/mosaic/fresco.
And now you have the rest of the story! As you reread this passage, look beyond the physical details, to the emotional/spiritual message. Sense the joy, even a radiant joy, the hope, the wonder, the abundance we find when we come to Christ.