We read of three appearances of the Lord all on the same day, but not at the same time. The second is surely wonderful, the third is wonderful, but the first, still more wonderful, is to be admired. The changing of the waters was wonderful, the simultaneous testimonies of John, of dove, and of the Father’s voice were wonderful, but the greatest wonder was the Magi’s recognition of him. Their worship and their offering of the frankincense show that they recognize God. They recognize that he is not only God but also a King, and this is represented by gold. Moreover, the great mystery of divine loving-kindness is not concealed from them, and the myrrh indicates that he is going to die. The Magi worship and offer gifts to the One still suckling the breasts of his mother.
Adore his humility in the company of the Magi, whose faithful devotion is set before you today as a model. To what shall we compare these men and to what shall we liken them? If I reflect on the faith of the thief and the confession of the centurion, the Magi seem to surpass them, because by their time, Jesus had already performed miracles, by then many people had already proclaimed him, and many had already worshipped him.
I ask you to reflect and see how clear-sighted faith is; consider carefully what sharp eyes it has. It recognizes the Son of God as he sucks milk, it recognizes him as he hangs on the cross, it recognizes him as he dies. The Magi recognized the Word of God in a speechless baby–whatever the others confess by they utterance, they confess by their gifts. The thief pronounces him a king, the centurion, both Son of God and a human being. The Magi’s gifts declare all these three.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon Two On the Lord’s Epiphany, Sermons for Advent and the Christmas Season, CF 51, p 164, 166, 167