Using the ancient technique of midrash (telling the story in a new form with old symbols) Matthew has brilliantly theologized about the role of Jesus.
What is he trying to say?
Simply this: pseudo-religion is dead.Astrologers (magoi) have surrendered their fake skills (“The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars” etc) of reading the stars. Nobody can know the future and the thing about magoi was that they could discern their fate—but could not change it. so by prostrating themselves with their gifts before the baby, they acknoweledge a new power in the world, that of vulnerable love.
Christianity thus rejects fatalism, impotence and “it is written” for new life and new hope. This it spread through the Roman Empire beginning in the Pauline years. Matthew acknowledges this, celebrates it in this epiphany story.
Now here is the question: what does this mean for us today? Scripture goes rancid when it degenerates into sentimentalism.
One word: Gaza. Babies who represent the most vulnerable are not respected. There is a deep racism at work here I am convinced. The latest stats from Gaza:
Since the invasion of Gaza began, more than 160 children have been killed according to Gaza medics, and hundreds more are seriously injured. Still more wounded children are suffering in homes lacking adequate food, heat and running water, with parents fearful that a trip to the hospital could be deadly.
Christian leaders who get dewy eyed about the baby Jesus and who will not speak for Arab babies and the vulnerable everywhere have not internalized the Epiphany stories. Thus they remain fairy stories or old news, hardly good news.