While acknowledging that there are many contemporary scholars who reject the two chapters of infancy narratives in the Gospel of St Matthew as historical fact, Benedict nonetheless concludes that the chapters are “not a meditation presented under the guise of stories, but the converse: Matthew is recounting real history, theologically thought through and interpreted.” Thus, for Pope Benedict, the Magi represent the inner dynamic of the human person and of science towards self-transcendence, “which involves a search for truth, a search for the true God, and hence philosophy in the original sense of the word.”
In a pre-papal work, Co-Workers of the Truth, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
“The Magi of the Gospel are but the first in a vast pilgrimage in which the beauty of this earth is laid at the feet of Christ: the gold of the ancient Christian mosaics, the multi-coloured light from the windows of our great cathedrals, the praise of their stone, the Christmas songs of the trees of the forest are all inspired by him, and human voices like musical instruments have found their most beautiful melodies when they cast themselves at his feet. The suffering of the world too – its misery – comes to him in order, for a moment, to find security and understanding in the presence of the God who is poor.”
The paradox is that while the Magi lay tokens of earthly beauty at the feet of Christ in one of the first human acts of adoration, at the birth of Christ divinity was laying at the feet of humanity the gift of “indestructible truth and eternal beauty.” As Benedict writes, “the Glory of God is real” and “this is truly a reason for joy: there is truth, there is goodness, there is beauty. It is there – in God – indestructibly”.