Three Or More?

If you are somewhat deep into social media, you’ve seen the seasonal meme. The myrrh and frankincense kings take the third man aside, complaining. “I thought we agreed on a gift limit!”

When I was involved with Advent or Christmas or school pageants, I surprised parents and the occasional educator by suggesting an unlimited number of “actors” if a reenactment of Matthew 2 was in the works. There are three gifts, and the number of givers is presumed, not gospel.

And then there were the crowns. “Kings” is a political sanitizing gesture; the evangelist Matthew tells of magi, and the connotation of pagan philosophers or astrologers or pagan priests recedes somewhat for the prim among us. So, three or more, and girls, too.

James Tissot’s painting, above, does show one leader per gift. But there is a whole retinue, as one would expect with a “royal” pilgrimage to a far-off land in the West.

Anyone with non-three or non-regal experiences?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Three Or More?

  1. Liam says:

    The tale of Artaban is one that’s been woven into at least one homily I’ve witnessed in person, and in our culture is probably the most likely point of departure from the interpretative assumption that three Magi ought to be induced from three named gifts.

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