By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
“Are we there yet?”
“Balthazar, you know the star hasn’t stopped moving yet,” grumbled an older man.
“I know, I was asking the star that,” quipped Balthazar. His older comrade merely rolled his eyes.
The third member of their party, who looked to be between their ages, chuckled, “Don’t worry Balthazar, we’ll get there shortly. But I think that if you keep asking the star how long it’s going to take, Caspar just might have a mind to turn us around and have us travel all the way back home. We wouldn’t be able to see the new King that way, will we?”
Balthazar sighed. “No, we wouldn’t, but we have been traveling for weeks! How much longer do you think we have to go, Melchior?”
Melchior shrugged. “As long as it will take until we find the new King. Come on, it’ll be worth it, trust me.”
“Oh I know it’ll be worth it; I just want to know how much longer.”
“Keep asking, and the star just might make us travel longer,” grumbled Caspar.
Melchior laughed. “Caspar, I think you just made a joke!”
Balthazar groaned. “Right, like that star has a mind of its own, Caspar.”
“Well, considering it did show up to announce the arrival of the new King, why shouldn’t it?”
Balthazar and Melchior merely glanced at each other, unsure of what to say. They continued on in silence then, stopping only for dinner and sleep. The next two days passed just as uneventfully, only with more mumblings and grumblings from the three, primarily Balthazar and Caspar. On the third day, they entered a city, the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. They figured it best to head straight to the ruler, Herod himself. He greeted them warmly, gave them comfortable beds to sleep in for the night, and a hearty breakfast the next day.
“Ah, that was delicious, Herod, your chef is excellent!” exclaimed Melchior.
“Thank you, my lord. Pray, tell me, why are you traveling hither?” The three glanced at each other, Caspar nodding.
“Well, we’re looking for someone, and, well, maybe you can help us,” stated Balthazar.
“How can I help you? And for whom do you seek?”
“We seek the new King of Israel, sire. We have been following the star set up to announce His birth. Do not your priests have prophecies of where he is to be born?”
A wave of anger seemed to pass over Herod’s face before quickly passing away into a twinge of surprise, “The new King of Israel, huh? I shall ask my priests if they know anything. Perhaps you will stay until they have found something?”
“That would be most appreciative, thank you Herod.” Caspar bowed his head to the ruler.
Herod bowed his head in return, “You are most welcome. If you wish, I may lend you one of my servants to show you around our lovely city until dinner.”
“That will be . . . most refreshing, sire. Again, we thank you.” The four bowed their heads solemnly before Herod called a servant to show them around, promising to send another servant to find them if the priests found anything before dinner. The three enjoyed their brief tour of the city before returning to dinner at Herod’s. The priests came in soon after it ended.
“My lord, the information you seek,” began the eldest one.
Herod shot a glance at the three before saying, “Yes, speak. What did you find?”
“The child you search for is to be born in Bethlehem,” replied the priest.
Melchior raised an eyebrow, “Bethlehem?”
The priest nodded, “Yes sire, a small town not far from here, actually.”
“I can send one of my servants with you to show you the way,” offered Herod.
“That would be most appreciative, thank you,” smiled Melchior.
Caspar rose from the table, “And now, if you’ll excuse us, we should head off to bed. We have a long day of travelling ahead of us.”
Herod rose, “Of course, my lords. Good night, and sleep well.” The other two rose and bowed their heads.
“Thank you again, your majesty.”
“Not at all, my pleasure. Oh, I might not see you when you leave, so if you could, come back and tell me where this child is? I too wish to give him homage.”
“We will. Good night!” Balthazar replied before the three left the room.
“Balthazar, why did you agree to do as he asked?” grumbled Caspar as soon as the door closed behind them.
“Well, he wished to pay homage to the newborn King as well, why should we not return and tell him where the child is?”
“But that might not be his real intentions! If he wished to pay homage, why does he not come with us and search for him?”
“Come, my friends, we should not argue before bed. If his intentions are false, then God Himself will let us know.”
“Very well. Good night Melchior, Balthazar,” sighed Caspar.
“Goodnight,” echoed the other two. Within minutes, they were sound asleep. They were up bright and early the next morning, leaving immediately after breakfast with one of Herod’s servants to lead them to Bethlehem. The journey went fairly quickly, the group arriving at the gates of Bethlehem within two days. The servant left them at the gates, not able to lead them any further as he did not know where in Bethlehem the new King was. The three Magi continued on, letting the star guide them the rest of the way. Their spirits were light and joyous, their journey was almost over! Soon, they would be laying their gifts at the feet of the newborn King. The star eventually stopped over a spot, and with eagerness, they rushed towards it, slowing down a bit when they got a good look at it. It was nothing more than a stable. They glanced at each other, wondering, what manner of house was this? True, they did know he was to be born in a lowly place, but they had not expected it to be this lowly. They did not doubt the star, though, and proceeded forward to the humble abode.
Caspar called out, “Hello?” A figure stirred among the shadows and walked out into the open. It was a man, probably about thirty, who stood before them.
“May I ask why you are here?” he asked in a kind but stern voice.
“We seek to pay homage to the newborn King, of whose star we have been following,” Caspar replied, indicating the star that shone overhead. The man glanced at the star before turning back to the Magi.
“Please wait a minute; I shall be right back.” With that, he went into the stable. The three Magi glanced at each other as soft whispers could be barely heard coming from the stable. It wasn’t long before the man came back out, and with a lantern.
“You may enter,” he stated with a slight bow of his head.
“Thank you.” The three quickly gathered things from their packs before following the man into the stable. There, in a manger, laid a newborn baby, tended to by his mother, a maiden no older than sixteen. She laid her eyes upon them, filled with kindness and wisdom.
“Welcome,” she smiled at them. The three bowed their heads reverently to the maiden.
“Thank you. We have brought presents for the newborn King.” She nodded and turned her eyes to the Baby lying in the manger. The three understood her meaning, and, one by one, knelt in front of the manger to lay their gifts at His feet. Caspar went first.
“I bring gold for the King,” he announced, laying a bag of gold at the foot of the manger.
Next was Melchior. “I have frankincense for the Son of God.” He opened a box to reveal several sticks of incense before laying it next to the gold. He glanced at the mother, “May I kiss His feet?” She smiled and nodded, removing the cloth around His feet. Melchior gently kissed the bare feet before rising, allowing Balthazar to go next. He did not say what he had brought or what it was for, but once everyone saw it was myrrh, they knew, even the young mother. The Magi could see with one glance that the young mother knew what was coming for the Babe; her eyes showed a deep sorrow at the sight of the myrrh. She knew, she knew far too well what was coming. She was the mother of the King, God, and Savior of the world, how could she not? Balthazar surprised them all by taking her fair hands in his darker ones and spoke to her.
“All shall be well, my lady, all shall be well. Just keep trusting in God.”
She smiled, “I shall.” Balthazar smiled at her before gently kissing her hands, and turned to kiss the Babe’s feet. The three stayed a while longer, getting to know the little family, giving them blankets and coats to last them through the winter. They spent the night just outside the stable, where an angel of God came to them, telling them of Herod’s true intentions for the Christ Child and bade them to go a different way home. The next day, they had left Bethlehem, taking another route home.
“Ugh, I wish that angel had given us directions.”
“What do you mean? He did give us directions!”
“To get home, Balthazar! My goodness, must I do all the thinking for you? And that thing you did to the mother of God . . .”
“I just kissed her hands.”
“Whatever! You should still ask permission! Melchior, please tell him it was inappropriate.”
“Because I should have done it first.”
“Melchior!” Balthazar and Melchior burst out laughing; even Caspar found it hard not to laugh. The star was still shining over Bethlehem, bringing joy and peace to those who heard its call.
Happy Birthday Jesus!