January 5, 2009

What Happened to the Gold?

When I arrived at the parish office this morning, a lively theological reflection was in progress on this question. What did Mary and Joseph do with the gold that the Magi brought for the newborn Jesus? Several possibilities were put forward:

1. Joseph used it as start-up capital for his contracting business.

2. They used it to pay for the Lord's college. After moving home again after college, Mary and Joseph kicked him out, which is where the canonical account picks up again.

3. Mary used the gold to buy the great many outfits she is known to appear in, some of which must have been quite expensive, e.g. Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

I think that only the first would be even be remotely likely to win a no-prize.


ben in denver said...

I always thought that it likely paid for the expenses of the flight into Egypt, which happened immediately following the visit of the Magi.

Brother Charles said...

That would be the best answer!

ben in denver said...

This brings to mind a question about the sequence of the infancy narratives. Liturgically speaking the Epiphany happens before the Presentation, and in Bethelehem. But it is difficult to see what the timeline would have been. I can't immagine that St. Mary would have recived visitors before the time of purification was completed, yet scripture clearly says she was present for the visit of the Magi. We know that the Presentation was "after the days of Purification" which would have been 40, and we know the the Presentation was in Jerusalem, and St. Luke tells us that they went from Jeruslaem back to Nazareth. However, St. Matthew tells us that after the Epiphany in Bethelhem, the Angel came to Joseph and they fled to Egypt, and then returned to Nazareth. Given the distances involved, I can't immaging the flight into Egypt could have happened between the visit of the Magi and the Presentation. There would not have been enough time for the travel. I would immagine the crossing the Saini peninsula on a donkey would take a few weeks each way?

Did they cover this in seminary? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Brother Charles said...

Unfortunately, the teachers where I went to school weren't interested in this kind of question. ;(

GrandmaK said...

You know, it never occurred to me to ask that question about the gold...But considering the question,it was apparently not a quantity sufficient to raise their social status. Joseph was still a carpenter, fleeing with a wife and child to Egypt. What Ben says, then, makes sense. Cathy