In the people who are gathered around the manger, we have an analogy for the Church and its development. Representatives of the old royal dynasties to whom the savior of the world was promised and representatives of faithful people constitute the relationship between the Old and the New Covenants.
The kings from the faraway East indicate the Gentiles for whom salvation is to come from Judea. So here there is already “the church made up of Jews and Gentiles.”
The kings at the manger represent seekers from all lands and peoples. Grace led them before they ever belonged to the external Church. There lived in them a pure longing for truth that did not stop at the boundaries of native doctrines and traditions.
Because God is truth and because he wants to be found by those who seek him with their whole hearts, sooner or later the star had to appear to show these wise men the way to truth. And so they now stand before the Incarnate Truth, bow down and worship it, and place their crowns at its feet, because all the treasures of the world are but a little dust compared to it.
And the kings have a special meaning for us, too. Even though we already belonged to the external Church, an interior impulse nevertheless drove us out of the circle of inherited viewpoints and conventions. We knew God, but we felt that he desired to be sought and found by us in a new way.
Therefore we wanted to open ourselves and sought for a star to show us the right way. And it arose for us in the grace of vocation. We followed it and found the Divine Infant. He stretched out his hands for our gifts.
He wanted the pure gold of a heart detached from all earthly goods; the myrrh of a renunciation of all the happiness of this world in exchange for participation in the life and suffering of Jesus; the frankincense of a will that surrenders itself and strains upward to lose itself in the divine will. In return for these gifts, the Divine Child gave us himself.
Saint Edith Stein
The Hidden Life and Epiphany
6 January 1940
Stein, E. 2014, The Hidden Life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts, translated from the German by Stein, W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.