Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 4 chapter 16 verses 552-564THE THREE KINGS OF THE ORIENT COME TO ADORE THE WORD MADE MAN IN BETHLEHEM.

  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  16    Verses:  552-564

552. The three Magi Kings, who came to find the
divine Infant after his birth, were natives of Persia,
Arabia and Sabba (Ps. 71, 10), countries to the east
of Palestine. Their coming was prophesied especially
by David, and before him, by Balaam, who, having been
hired by Balaac, king of the Moabites, to curse the Israel
ites, blessed them instead (Numb. 24, 17). In this
blessing Balaam said, that he would see the King Christ,
although not at once, and that he would behold Him,
although not present; for he did not see Him with his
own eyes, but through the Magi, his descendants many
centuries after. He said, also, that a star would arise
unto Jacob, which was Christ, who arose to reign for
ever in the house of Jacob (Luke 1, 32).
553. These three Kings were well versed in the natural
sciences, and well read in the Scriptures of the people of
God; and on account of their learning they were called
Magi. By their knowledge of Scripture, and by con
ferring with some of the Jews, they were imbued with
a belief in the coming of the Messias expected by that
people. They were, moreover, upright men, truthful
and very just in the government of their countries.
Since their dominions were not so extended as those of
our times, they governed them easily, and personally
administered justice as wise and prudent sovereigns.
This is the true office of kings, and therefore the Holy
Ghost says, that He holds their hearts in his hands in
order to direct them like irrigated waters to the fulfill
ment of his holy will (Prov. 21, 1). They were also of
noble and magnanimous disposition, free from avarice
and covetousness, which so oppresses, degrades and be
littles the spirits of princes. Because these Magi gov
erned adjoining countries and lived not far from each
other, they were mutual friends and shared with each
other the virtues and the knowledge which they had ac
quired, consulting each other in the more important
events of their reigns. In all things they communicated
with each other as most faithful friends.
554. I have already mentioned in the eleventh chapter
(No. 492) that in the same night in which the incarnate
Word was born, they were informed of his Birth by the
ministry of the holy angels. It happened in the follow
ing manner: one of the guardian angels of our Queen,
of a higher order than that of the guardian angels of the
three kings, was sent from the cave of the Nativity. By
his superior faculties he enlightened the three guardian
angels of the Kings informing them at the same time of
the will and command of the Lord, that each of them
should manifest to his charge the mystery of the Incar
nation and of the birth of Christ our Redeemer. Imme
diately and in the same hour each of the three angels
spoke in dreams to the wise man under his care. This
is the usual course of angelic revelations when the Lord
communicates with souls through the angels. This en
lightenment of the Kings concerning the mysteries of the
Incarnation was very copious and clear. They were in
formed that the King of the Jews was born as true God
and man ; that He was the Messias and Savior who was
expected ; that it was the One who was promised in the
Scriptures and prophecies (Gen. 3, 10) ; and that they
themselves, the three Kings, were singled out by the Lord
to seek the star, which Balaam had foretold. Each one
of the three Kings also was made aware that the same
revelation was being made to the other two in the same
way ; and that it was not a favor or miracle which should
remain unused, but that they were expected to co-operate
with the divine light and execute what it pointed out.
They were inspired and inflamed with a great love and
with a desire to know the God made man, to adore Him
as their Creator and Redeemer, and serve Him with most
perfect devotion. In all this they were greatly assisted
by their distinguished moral virtues, which they had ac
quired; for on account of them they were excellently
disposed for the operation of the divine enlightenment.
555. After receiving these heavenly revelations in
their sleep, the three Kings awoke at the same hour of
the night, and prostrating themselves on the ground
and humiliating themselves to the dust, they adored in
spirit the immutable being of God. They exalted his
infinite mercy and goodness for having sent the divine
Word to assume flesh of a Virgin (Is. 7, 14) in order
to redeem the world and give eternal salvation to men.
Then all three of them, governed by an impulse of the
same Spirit, resolved to depart without delay for Judea
in search of the divine Child in order to adore Him.
The three Kings prepared gifts of gold, incense and
myrrh in equal quantities, being guided by the same mys
terious impulse ; and without having conferred with each
other concerning their undertaking, the three of them
arrived at the same resolve and the same plan of exe
cuting it. In order to set out immediately, they procured
on the same day the necessary camels and provisions
together with a number of servants for the journey.
Without heeding the commotion caused among their peo
pie, or considering
1 that they were to travel in foreign
regions, or caring for any outward show of authority,
without ascertaining particulars of the place whither they
were to go, or gathering information for identifying the
Child, they at once resolved with fervent zeal and ardent
love to depart in order to seek the newborn King.
556. At the same time the holy angel, who had brought
the news from Bethlehem to the kings, formed of the
material air a most resplendent star, although not so large
as those of the firmament ; for it was not to ascend higher
than was necessary for the purpose of its formation. It
took its course through the atmospheric regions in order
to guide and direct the holy Kings to the cave, where the
Child awaited them. Its splendor was of a different
kind from that of the sun and the other stars; with its
most beautiful light it illumined the night like a brilliant
torch, and it mingled its own most active brilliancy with
that of the sun by day. On coming out of their palaces
each one of the kings saw this new star (Matth. 2, 2)
although each from a different standpoint, because it was
only one star and it was placed in such distance and
height that it could be seen by each one at the same time.
As the three of them followed the guidance of this
miraculous star, they soon met. Thereupon it imme
diately approached them much more closely, descending
through many shifts of the aerial space and rejoicing
them by shedding its refulgence over them at closer
range. They began to confer among themselves about
the revelation they had received and about their plans,
finding that they were identical. They were more and
more inflamed with devotion and with the pious desire
of adoring the newborn God, and broke out in praise and
admiration at the inscrutable works and mysteries of the
557. The Magi pursued their journey under the guid
ance of the star without losing sight of it until they
arrived at Jerusalem. As well on this account as also
because this city was the capital and metropolis of the
Jews, they suspected that this was the birthplace of their
legitimate and true King. They entered into the city
and openly inquired after Him, saying (Matth. 2, 8) :
Where is the king of the Jews, who is born? For we
have seen his star in the East, announcing to us his
Birth and we have come to see Him and adore Him.
Their inquiry came to the ears of Herod, who at that
time unjustly reigned in Judea and lived in Jerusalem.
The wicked king, panic-stricken at the thought that a
more legitimate claimant to the throne should have been
born, felt much disturbed and outraged by this report.
With him the whole city was aroused, some of the peo
ple, out of flattery to the king, others on account of the
fear of disturbance. Immediately, as saint Matthew
relates, Herod called together a meeting of the principal
priests and scribes in order to ask them where Christ was
to be born according to the prophecies and holy Scrip
tures. They answered that, according to the words of
one of the Prophets, Micheas (Mich. 5, 2), He was to
be born in Bethlehem; since it was written by him that
thence the Ruler of Israel was to arise.
558. Thus informed of the birthplace of the new King
of Israel, and insidiously plotting from that very moment
to destroy Him, Herod dismissed the priests. Then he
secretly called the Magi in order to learn of them at what
time they had seen the star as harbinger of his Birth
(Matth. 2, 7). They ingenuously informed him, and
he sent them away to Bethlehem, saying to them in covert
malice : "Go and inquire after the Infant, and when you
have found Him, announce it to me, in order that I, too,
may go to recognize and adore Him." The Magi de
parted, leaving the hypocritical king ill at ease and in
great consternation at such indisputable signs of the com
ing of the legitimate King of Israel into the world. Al
though he could have eased his mind in regard to his
sovereignty by the thought that a recently born infant
could not be enthroned so very soon, yet human pros
perity is so unstable and deceitful that it can be over
thrown even by an infant, or by the mere threat of faroff
danger. Thus can even an imagined uncertainty
destroy all the enjoyment and happiness so deceitfully
offered to its possessors.
559. On leaving Jerusalem the Magi again found the
star, which at their entrance they had lost from view.
By its light they were conducted to Bethlehem and to the
cave of the Nativity. Diminishing in size it hovered
over the head of the infant Jesus and bathed Him in its
light; whereupon the matter of which it had been com
posed dissolved and disappeared. Our great Queen had
already been prepared by the Lord for the coming of the
Kings, and when She understood that they were ap
proaching the cave, She requested saint Joseph not to
leave it, but to stay at her side. This he did, although
the sacred text does not mention it. Like many other
things passed over in the Gospels, this was not neces
sary for establishing the truth of the mystery. Never
theless it is certain that saint Joseph was present when
the Kings adored the infant Jesus. The precaution of
sending him away was not necessary ; for the Magi had
already been instructed that the Mother of the Newborn
was a Virgin, and that He was the true God and not a
son of saint Joseph. Nor would God have permitted
them to be led to the cave ignorant of such an important
circumstance as his origin, allowing them to adore the
Child as the son of Joseph and of a Mother not a Virgin.
They were fully instructed as to all these things, and
they were deeply impressed by the sacramental character
of all these exalted and complicated mysteries.
560. The heavenly Mother awaited the pious and de
vout kings, standing with the Child in her arms. Amid
the humble and poor surroundings of the cave, in incom
parable modesty and beauty, she exhibited at the same
time a majesty more than human, the light of heaven
shining in her countenance. Still more visible was this
light in the Child, shedding through the cavern effulgent
splendor, which made it like a heaven. The three kings
of the East entered and at the first sight of the Son and
Mother they were for a considerable space of time over
whelmed with wonder. They prostrated themselves upon
the earth, and in this position they worshiped and adored
the Infant, acknowledging Him as the true God and
man, and as the Savior of the human race. By the
divine power, which the sight of Him and his presence
exerted in their souls, they were filled with new enlight
enment. They perceived the multitude of angelic spirits,
who as servants and ministers of the King of kings and
Lord of lords attended upon Him in reverential fear
(Heb. 1, 4). Arising, they congratulated their and our
Queen as Mother of the Son of the eternal Father; and
they approached to reverence Her on their knees. They
sought her hand in order to kiss it, as they were accus
tomed to do to their queens in their countries. But the
most prudent Lady withdrew her hand, and offered in
stead that of the Redeemer of the world, saying: "My
spirit rejoices in the Lord and my soul blesses and extols
Him; because among all the nations He has called and
selected you to look upon and behold that which many
kings and prophets have in vain desired to see, namely,
Him who is the eternal Word incarnate (Luke 10, 24).
Let us extol and praise his name on account of the sacra
ments and mysteries wrought among his people; let us
kiss the earth which He sanctifies by his real presence."
561. At these words of most holy Mary the three
kings humiliated themselves anew, adoring the infant
Jesus ; they acknowledged the great blessings of living in
the time when the Sun of justice was arising in order to
illumine the darkness (Malachy 4, 2). Thereupon they
spoke to saint Joseph, congratulating him and extolling
his good fortune in being chosen as the spouse of the
Mother of God; and they expressed wonder and com
passion at the great poverty, beneath which were hidden
the greatest mysteries of heaven and earth. In this in
tercourse they consumed three hours, and then the kings
asked permission of most holy Mary to go to the city in
order to seek a lodging, as they could find no room for
themselves in the cave. Some people had accompanied
them; but the Magi alone participated in the light and
the grace of this visit. The others took notice merely of
what passed exteriorly, and witnessed only the destitute
and neglected condition of the Mother and her husband.
Though wondering at the strange event, they perceived
nothing of its mystery. The Magi took leave and de
parted, while most holy Mary and Joseph, being again
alone with their Child, glorified his Majesty with new
songs of praise, because his name was beginning to be
known and adored among the Gentiles (Ps. 85, 9).
What else the three wise men did will be related in the
following chapter.
562. My daughter, the events recorded in this chapter
contain much for the instruction of kings and princes
and for the other faithful; as for instance, the prompt
obedience and humility of the Magi, which men should
imitate, and the obdurate wickedness of Herod, which
they are to fear and abhor; for each reaped the fruit of
his actions. The kings reaped the fruit of justice and
other virtues, which they practiced; while Herod reaped
those of ambition and pride by which he had usurped the
government, and of other vices into which he cast him
self without restriction or moderation. But let this re
mark, together with the other teachings of the holy
church, suffice for those that live in the world. To thy
self must thou apply the doctrine contained in what thou
hast written ; always remembering that all the perfection
of a Christian life must be founded upon the Catholic
truths, and in the constant and firm acknowledgment of
them, as they are taught by holy faith. In order to im
press them upon thy heart, thou must profit of all that
thou readest or hearest of the divine Writings, and of
what is contained in the other devout and instructive
books concerning the virtues. Thy faith thou must ac
company by the practice and abundance of all good works,
hoping ever in the visitation and coming of the Most
High (Tit. 2, 13).
563. By such a disposition thy soul will be prepared
in the manner I require of thee. For I desire that the
Almighty find in thee the sweet readiness to adopt what
ever is manifested to thee, and to put in practice what
ever may be enjoined without any human respect. I
promise, that if thou follow my counsel as thou shouldst,
I will be thy star and guide on the ways of the Lord, so
that thou wilt quickly arrive at the vision and enjoyment
of thy God and of thy highest good in Sion (Ps. 83, 8).
In this doctrine, and in what happened to the devout
kings of the Orient, there is contained a most effective
means for the salvation of souls ; yet this is known to few
and heeded by a still smaller number of men. It is this :
that the inspirations and enlightenments are usually sent
by God to creatures in a certain order. At first some
are sent to incite the soul to practice some of the virtues ;
if the soul corresponds, the Most High sends other and
greater ones in order to move the soul to greater perfec
tion in virtue; and thus, profiting from previous graces,
the soul is disposed for still others, receiving ever greater
helps and securing an increase of the favors of the Lord
according as it corresponds to them. Thou wilt there
fore understand two things : first, how great a damage it
is to neglect the exercise of any virtue and not to prac
tice perfection according to the dictates of the divine in
spirations; secondly, how often God would give great
assistance to the souls, if they would begin to correspond
to the smaller ones ; since He is as it were in expectation
and hope that they will prepare for his greater ones
(Apoc. 6, 20). For He wishes to deal with the soul
according to his just judgments. But because they over
look this orderly manner of proceeding in his invitations,
He suspends the flow of his divine gifts and He refuses
to the souls, what was intended for them if they had not
placed an obstacle, allowing them to fall from one abyss
to the other (Ps. 41, 8).
564. The Magi and Herod pursued opposite courses :
the Magi met the first inspirations and graces by the
practice of the good works; thus they disposed them
selves by many virtues for being called and drawn by
divine revelation to the knowledge of the mysteries of
the Incarnation, the birth of the divine Word and the
Redemption of the human race; and through this to the
happiness and perfection of the way of life. But Herod,
on the other hand, by his hard-heartedness and neglect
of the helps, which God offered him for the practice of
virtue, was drawn into the abyss of his measureless
pride and ambition. These vices hurled him into such
vast precipices of cruelty as to be the first one among
men to seek the life of the Redeemer of the world under
the cloak of simulated devotion and piety. In giving
vent to his furious rage, he took away the life of the
innocent children and attempted by so foul a measure to
advance his damned and perverse undertaking.
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