Ord.: This warning is given by the Lord Himself; it is none other that now teaches these Magi the way they should return, but He who said, “I am the way.” Not that the Infant actually speaks to them, that His divinity may not be revealed before the time, and His human nature may be thought real. Buthe says, “having received an answer,” for as Moses prayed silently, so they with pious spirit had asked what the Divine will bade. “By another way,” forthey were not to be mixed up with the unbelieving Jews.
Hom. in Ev. i. 10. 7: We may learn much from this return of the Magi another way. Our country is Paradise, to which, after we have come to the knowledge of Christ we are forbidden to return the way we came. We have left this country by pride, disobedience, following things of sight, tasting, forbidden food; and we must return to it by repentance, obedience, by contemning things of sight, and overcoming carnal appetite.
They had offered gifts to the Lord, and receive a warning corresponding to it.This warning (in the Greek ‘having received a response’) is given not by an Angel, but by the Lord Himself, to show the high privilege granted to the merit of Joseph.
Had the Magi sought Christ as an earthly King, they would have remained with Him when they had found Him; but they only worship, and go their way. After their return, they continued in the worship of God more steadfast than before, and taught many by their preaching. And when afterwards Thomas reached their country, they joined themselves to him, and were baptized, and did according tohis preaching.
It was impossible that they, who left Herod to go to Christ, should return toHerod. They who have by sin left Christ and passed to the devil, often return to Christ; for the innocent, who knows not what is evil, is easily deceived, but having once tasted the evil he has taken up, and remembering the good he has left, he returns in penitence to God. He who has forsaken the devil and come to Christ, hardly returns to the devil; for rejoicing in the good he has found, and remembering the evil he has escaped, with difficulty returns to that evil.
See from this also their faith, how they were not offended, but are docile, and considerate; neither are they troubled, nor reason with themselves, saying, And yet, if this Child be great, and has any might, what need of flight, and of a clandestine retreat? And wherefore can it be, that when we have come openly and with boldness, and have stood against so great a people, and against a king's madness, the angel sends us out of the city as runaways and fugitives? But none of these things did they either say or think. For this most especially belongs to faith, not to seek an account of what is enjoined, but merely to obey the commandments laid upon us.
Consider the sequence of events. First God guided them to faith by means of the star. Then they came to Jerusalem and He taught them through the prophet Micah that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. And finally, they were warned by means of the angel. They obeyed the warning, that is, the divine speech. Therefore, having received the warning, that is, having accepted the revelation from God, they deceived Herod. They were not afraid of pursuit, but were bold in the power of Him that had been born. Thus they were true witnesses and confessors.