THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI

It was Christmas eve in Bethlehem. For almost an hour, a very bright star had hung motionless over the city. Since the streets were brightly lighted and decorated for the holiday season however, very few people noticed it. Several shepherds who still tended their sheep on the nearby hillsides, noticed it and wondered what kind of space experiment it might be, and which country was conducting it.

At eleven P.M. the ‘star’ (a small spacecraft) settled quietly to earth in an open area near the Grotto of the Nativity, and three men, dressed in flowing robes, which seemed to be of ancient pattern and weave, emerged. In spite of the lateness of the hour, a small group of passers-by soon gathered around the three men, who seemed to be seeking information, but whose speech could not be understood by the group. Finally, one of the listeners, a professor of languages, stepped forward. “These men seem to be speaking an ancient form of Semitic or Akkadian, of which I have a little knowledge. Perhaps if you will allow me to speak with them, we may be able to learn what this is all about.” He then turned to the three visitors and spoke a few words that were obviously questions, after which he listened carefully as the eldest of the three, who was apparently their spokesman, replied at length. At one point the professor interjected several sentences of his own and again listened to the rather-lengthy reply. As he listened however, an expression of puzzlement and then one of amazement came over his face.

When the visitor had finished speaking, the professor turned to the group about him and said. “Folks, this is either the most complex of practical jokes, or the most amazing event ever recorded in history. This man says that they have come here from a distant planet, to bring gifts to a child that is to be born here tonight. They say it is a Christ Child who will be named Jesus. It will he born to a couple named Joseph and Mary, in a stable near here.

I told them that their information seemed to be correct enough, but that they must have their dates mixed, and that the event they were describing had taken place almost two thousand years ago. At first they seemed incredulous, but finally their leader told me that if what I said was true, there must have been a serious error or malfunction in the setting of the time control for their arrival. He explained that, since space travel requires very long periods of time, their ships are designed to travel in time as well as space. When a trip is planned the ship is programmed for its destination in space, and also for the time it is to arrive at that destination. consequently, no matter how great the distance traveled, the trip will seem to the crew to have been only a few hours or even a few minutes. The fact that their ship arrived here several thousands of our years after it was intended to, simply means that there was a serious malfunction of the time control for arrival, even though the time elapse for the trip appeared to be as it should have been to the crew. He said that during the approach to the earth and during the time the ship had hovered over the city before landing, a suspicion had been raised that something was wrong because the city and the whole planet was so different from the one they had expected to find, but they had never dreamed of such a huge deviation in the time factor. When I suggested that they simply repair or correct their time control, and go back to the proper time to deliver their gifts, he pointed out that, even though they could correct their time control system, they could not now go back into what has become the past and deliver their gifts, since that would result in the changing of everything that has happened since then.

The crowd had grown somewhat larger now and, as the professor continued with his explanation, most of the people were expressing their utter disbelief in one way or another. Some were simply smiling skeptically, several were snickering audibly, and one young man was laughing aloud. “I’ve heard some wild tales in my time,” he said, “but this one certainly tops them all! It’s pretty late in the evening to set up a street pitch, but they’ve got their crowd started, why don’t they get out their wares and let us see what they have to sell.’” A slight titter went through the crowd, and some people began to go about their

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own business, assuming that the young man’s explanation must be the correct one, and not wanting to be subjected to some bizarre sales pitch. The professor however, turned back to the three visitors. (He had seen the small spacecraft land knew that, whatever the situation might be, it was not a sales pitch.) “What will you do now?” he asked. Again the eldest of the three, who was apparently the leader as well as the spokesman, answered. “That will have to be decided. Since the gifts we bring cannot be delivered to the one for whom they were intended, they should probably be returned to those who planned and created them.” Then he asked, “How successful was the life and ministry of Jesus? Surely your history must say something about him?” That is not an easy question to answer,” the professor replied, “There has indeed been a great deal written about him, especially in a book called the Holy Bible, which is accepted today by hundreds of millions of persons as the foundation book of the Christian religion. The special lights and decorations you see in the streets tonight have been placed there to commemorate his birth almost two thousand years ago. Tomorrow, people will gather in tens of thousands of churches throughout the world, to celebrate that birth. Unfortunately, although these people worship him as a part of the trinity of Godhood, hardly any of them follow or even consider seriously, the advice which he gave for successful living. Much of his advice was idealistic in that it would work wonderfully well if everyone followed it, but there were and are, far too many who simply cannot understand its logic.”

“That is truly sad,” the ancient replied, “Had we been able to add our gifts to those of the Earth’s Magi, the result would have been very different. It had been agreed that the three Magi from Earth would present the symbols of earthly success, while we would present the symbols of spiritual success. The plan was good but it failed to consider the possibility that the timing might go astray.”

“Are you free to say what the gifts you bring are?” the Professor asked. “Of course,” was the reply. “As you probably know, the gifts of the earthly Magi were Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, three symbols of a successful earthly life. Our gifts were to be Peace, Love and Understanding, the symbols of successful spiritual life.”

“It is easy to see how the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh could be given to the Christ Child, since they are material things that can be wrapped and delivered,” the professor said, but it is not so easy to see how the gifts of Peace, Love and Understanding could be brought a great distance in a spacecraft and offered as gifts. Since they are non-material qualities, how could they be transported or presented?” “The problem is that your science does not yet fully understand that radiations which seem to be completely non-material can, if sufficiently concentrated, become material. You probably know that a small bit of matter can be converted into a very large amount of energy, and that, while energy itself is non-material, a very large amount of it can be contained in a small bit of matter. Yet your science has not realized that many other essences or qualities can be concentrated until they become material, and a small amount of that material can have a controlling effect over a surprisingly large area. Peace, Love and Understanding are states of the mind and body that can be stimulated by the radiation from other minds and bodies that are in the ideal state. On our own home planet we long ago learned the art of collecting the aura emanating from many minds all focused on the same spot at the same time, and condensing them into a form of plasma stored in small containers so that it could be released in small quantities as needed. Our own people have evolved to the point that such qualities as peace, love and understanding are a part of their natural state of being, and the collection and storage of such essence is no longer needed, but we understood that your race and culture were badly in need of them, at least at the time when we were to deliver these gifts, and that they would be of great help in the life and mission of the Christ Child.”

“I am sure they would have been,” the professor replied, “and it is indeed a pity they were so long delayed. I am afraid that our own civilization has not progressed very much since the time of Jesus. For example, I have heard three men on the edge of the group here,. whispering together about how very valuable your gifts and your space-craft would be to anyone who possessed them, and how easy it would be for them to seize them from you. While they do not understand the language we are speaking, they know that you bear valuable gifts, and they see no reason why they should not take them for themselves. Do you have any weapons with which to protect yourselves if you should be attacked?”

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“Have no fear,” the elder replied, “No one will attack us, or anyone else in this area tonight. Not knowing what to expect in the way of a welcome when we landed, we took the precaution of releasing a very tiny flow of the essence of peace, before we emerged from our craft. It will be completely effective within this area at least for the remainder of the evening.”

At this point in their conversation, the three young outlaws, who were members of a local terrorist organization, approached the visitors. “Come on, you old fogies,” their leader said, “We’re taking over now. You don’t have any right to be on earth at all. No one invited you here, and we have just as much right to your things as you have. If you do exactly as we tell you we may let you live. If you don’t this will be your last day on earth, or anywhere else. First we want to go into your spacecraft and see what you have for us!

Since the Magi did not understand what the bandits were saying, they said nothing, but simply looked to the professor for explanation. The half-dozen persons who still remained in the group about the Magi, now moved away in all directions. They did understand the words of the bandits, and did not want to be involved in what it seemed might be a violent encounter. This left only the Magi, the professor and the bandits. Seeing that the Magi made no move to comply with their demands, the leader of the bandits leaped toward the eldest of the Magi shouting, “I’ll teach you to do as I say, old man!” He drew back his fist to aim a blow at the elder’s jaw. The blow, however, never landed, nor was it ever launched. Instead the bandit stood frozen in a grotesque position, with his fist drawn back, unable to move a muscle. The expression of rage on his face quickly changed to amazement and then to fear. “Help me!” he called to his two companions, one of whom pulled a knife from his belt. He had taken only one step toward the Magi however, when he also became motionless. The third bandit, seeing his pals so easily and completely incapacitated, decided that this was no place for him, and took off down the street, leaving his erstwhile companions to their fate.

For a long moment no one moved or spoke. Finally, the elder Magi said to the professor, in a calm and matter-of-fact tone, “Please inform these two misguided young men that if they will purge their minds of all thoughts of violence and intentions of evil, they will find themselves free to go about any legitimate business they may have elsewhere. Their paralysis is not the result of any act of ours, but simply their own attempts to act against the aura of peace that has been released in this area.”

The professor did his best to explain the situation to the two motionless bandits and, while it is doubtful that they ever really understood, they were convinced of the complete futility of any attempt at violence. The fist of the first bandit slowly unclenched and his arm dropped to his side. The second began to return his knife to its sheath in his belt, but the knife slipped from his fingers and dropped to the ground. He made no attempt to pick it up as the two men strode quickly away.

“I think we had better return to our ship,” the elder said, “before any more people gather around us. There we can discuss, without interruption, what is best to be done. If you will consent to accompany us into our craft Professor, you are the only resident of the Earth we have met that understands the language we speak. Although we speak many languages, remember that we have been displaced in time for several thousands of years and have had no opportunity to learn your present speech.” “I will be happy to accompany you into your ship if there is room for me,” the professor replied, but is there not some danger that, if we leave the ship apparently unattended, it may be damaged by someone try to force their way in?” “Not at all,” the elder said, “The aura of peace is still acting, and no one will be able to commit any act of force or violence in this area for some time.”

Once inside the ship, the question of what should be done was immediately taken up. “It is clear that our original purpose cannot now be accomplished,” the elder said, “While our gifts of peace, love and understanding would have been of tremendous benefit to the Christ Child and to the earth of His time, the population was then much smaller and the problems much more simple. To bring about true culture and civilization in the present earth population, would require at least twenty times the volume and potency of the essence we have brought, especially that of understanding, and I fear the present civilization and even the race cannot long survive without it. It seems that the only thing we can do is to go back to our own planet, and to our own time, and prepare gifts for the Earth as it now is. The preparation will require considerable time, and the complete cooperation of several millions of our people. It may be argued by some that the population of the Earth

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is not worthy of that kind of effort, but I think we can persuade them that it may be in the future. A plan must be prepared whereby the aura can be released at many different places on Earth at the same time, and there will be need for a great deal of understanding so that the transition to the concept of peace may take place in a natural manner.”

After considerable discussion, it was agreed that this seemed to be the only practical plan of action.

“I have one question,” the professor said. “Is there any possibility that I could go along with you? I am alone in the world, and have no responsibilities here, nor is there anyone who would be likely to miss me greatly. I am well acquainted with this earth and its population, for which you will be preparing your gifts, and I may be of considerable help to you in understanding it.”

“If you are willing to go with us, I think it would be an excellent plan,” the elder replied. “You could indeed be of much help to us since you are an example of the earth’s population that may help to dispel much of the adverse comment and belief we might otherwise have to contend with. You must realize however, that while we can control the time of our travel so that it will seem to be only a few hours, and will be so far as your planet is concerned, the time required to prepare our gifts on our planet is absolute time, and cannot be altered with respect to yours. It may be a year or several years before you can return to Earth.” “That will be time I will be most happy to spend, and will be spending in the greatest cause any earthman has ever had,” the professor replied, “Let us proceed at once.”

It was shortly after midnight when several U.F.O. enthusiasts swore that they saw a gleaming U.F.O. take off from the center of Bethlehem, flash through the western skies, and disappear in space. The report rated six lines on the fifth page of the next day’s news, but then no one really pays any attention to U.F.O. reports any more.

There is still a missing person report on file, which describes a certain ‘Professor of Languages’ who dropped out of sight on Christmas eve, but no one has raised any fuss about it.

In the meantime, the pall of fear and apprehension that hangs over the earth’s population grows ever deeper. The thread that still holds the sword of Damocles suspended over all of civilization seems to grow ever thinner and weaker. Nations bluster and threaten each other in their own fear, and continue to impoverish themselves to produce still more deadly weapons, when they already have enough to destroy each other totally, and many times over.

Only a few of those who saw the Magi in Bethlehem have guessed the truth. They look to the skies each night, and pray that they may return with their gifts in time!

(Signed Daniel W. Fry)