The Gospel taken for the Epiphany is from Matthew 2:1-12 and is unique to Matthew’s Gospel as it is known as the Kingdom Gospel. The Magi represent the distant lands and peoples to whom Christ will offer His universal wisdom.
These “Wise Men” also represent the former ways of thinking, wondering and philosophizing. They come in a sign of surrender to this new “epiphany.” The Magi are the figures of the world who did the seeking for and the finding of God. The Light is initiated by God and this Light is meant for the whole world.
The gifts which the Magi present represent what is valuable to these seekers. They leave them at the “house,” no longer the manger for they come to Jesus when He is around 2 years old, as we read of the killing of the “Holy Innocent,” who were about 2 years old, by King Herod. They leave by “another way” to avoid Herod or possibly with the understanding that they have been changed and can never go back to the way they were before their encounter. They have not so much found as they have been found and leave that place to begin spreading the news of the Finder they found.
The Magi story is the revelation that mere human wisdom searches for more than it can understand. The Wanderers, who have come from afar in distance and time, arrive not at an idea or principle, but at the mystery of a person.
We would like to think of God, arrive at our own logical, reasonable concept of God. We would love to say that we have found God. If we determine who and what God is, then we would seem to control God. God would have to act accordingly. In prostrating themselves, the Magi admit their former human arrogance and surrender to the truth that until then, they had not been satisfied with the conclusions of their personal ponderings.
It can be assumed that, as with the shepherds before them, the Magi went back by “another way,” not merely geographically. They return to a new and different way of relating with life. Their hearts and spirits are comforted and their minds still turning these things over in wonder, not a bad way to journey. The seeking is God’s labor, the being found is ours.
The Magi did not stay at the place to which the star guided them. Nobody who came to find Jesus, from the shepherds to those seeking Him within the tomb, were ever allowed just to stay nice and close to Him, the finder. He moved them along in their human-heart search. This too is not bad, but rather a holy way to journey.