Port Huron man’s book gets readers up close and personal with the Magi
PORT HURON — Just exactly who were these three kings of Orient? And why did they bring gifts and traverse afar?
There isn’t much information on the Magi who presented the baby Jesus with gifts after his birth, but local author Roger Thomas has delved into these royal visitors who sought after the Son of Man.
“It’s a long-held dream of mine to write about the Magi; it’s a wide open area for imagination,” said Thomas, a member of St. Mary Parish in Port Huron and author of From Afar, the story of the three Wise Men who traveled from the Parthian Empire (modern-day Iraq, Iran and Pakistan), following a star to the newborn King of the Jews.
“There are legends about being three of them with three gifts, even legends of their backgrounds,” Thomas said. “Why would they care about the King of the Jews? They were pagans, why did they go looking for the Savior of the Jewish people? In the book, I used imagination to bring together Old Testament prophecy.”
From Afar is fiction, with Thomas using his imagination and creative license to build a narrative around three men traveling a great distance to see the newborn king, each with their own motivations, hopes and reservations.
“It’s fiction, but based on Scripture,” Thomas said. “I wanted to weave into the story the wonder of the Nativity itself. It’s just not what you expect. He wasn’t born in a palace, no real decree from a king, no great announcement. When the Magi asked, ‘Where is the king?,’ well, he wasn’t born in a palace, just a little hut south of Bethlehem.”
Thomas wrote the book in such a way so the reader can relate the Magi’s misconceptions with their own.
“When they find the Holy Family, it wasn’t what they were looking for, what they were searching for. It wasn’t what they expected,” Thomas said. “I enjoy bringing these people to life in a realistic way. All too often, we have these two-dimensional looks at these people. I want to bring the Magi to life as real people with real doubt. Trying to believe something greater than themselves.”
In addition to introducing a more fleshed-out narrative of the Magi, Thomas exposes the reader to the Hellenistic world with which the Magi and everybody else in the biblical narrative were familiar, a world filled with violence and people putting their faith and hopes in things other than God.
“Our modern world is very much like the Hellenistic world, especially in the post-modern world when people have abandoned faith or abandoned absolute truths,” Thomas said. “Like (G.K.) Chesterton said, when man stops worshiping God, he doesn’t stop worshiping, he just worships something else. And it’s these men coming out to Christ the King, amidst all the tragedies, wars and bloodshed, that’s the world to which Jesus came.”
While the book isn’t intended to be a primary source on the Magi, Thomas hopes readers will gain a greater appreciation of the world in which Jesus was born, which in turn will lead to a greater appreciation of the salvation story.
“The Nativity wasn’t a detached mystery; the foundation was laid from the dawn of time, since the fall of man,” Thomas said. “So people need to understand the process has been long written down.”
Having that greater sense of history will lead to a greater sense of the humanity of these now legendary figures, Thomas said.
“My hope is people will understand the Magi. Most everyone involved in the Nativity story walked the earth and struggled, they faced problems like we do,” Thomas said. “But nonetheless, they continued to walk the path to see the face of God. The truth is, there is holiness in all of us. These people were pagans, but nonetheless answered the call to seek the true God. My hope is that will encourage people.”
By Roger Thomas
Tumblar House (Oct. 17, 2016)
Amazon.com and TumblarHouse.com