By Father Ray Atwood Prince of Peace Cluster – La Porte City, Eagle Center, Traer
The Magi and Their Gifts
Sunday, January 4 was the Solemn Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. This is one of the manifestations of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world. Saint Matthew tells us that magi come from the East, guided by a star, find the Christ-Child in Bethlehem, and offer him homage. In the magi, we see representatives of the Gentile world, which shared with the Jews in the light of salvation.
There are many angles and approaches we could take as we reflect on this passage, but one of my favorites is to focus on the gifts of the magi. Matthew tells us that they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Fathers of the Church (e.g., John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine) identified them as follows: gold was a gift for a king; incense was a gift for God; myrrh was a gift for a man who would die and be buried. These gifts are symbols of the Christ-Child, who had a divine nature, who was mortal and would die in a cross and be buried, and who is King of the Universe. The gifts tell us something of the nature and destiny of Jesus Christ.
There is a personal application of this biblical passage. It is this: each of us, like the magi, has gifts to offer the Lord. They may not be physical gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but they are special and valuable nonetheless.
Your “gold” could be a monetary offering to your church or parish community, or to the poor. It could also be your talents, such as organizing, leading, singing, or speaking about Christ. These gifts you can bring to the Christ-Child and build up your church and community. Your “gold” could also be the gift of time that you donate to a good cause. Time, talent, and treasure are valuable offerings we make to the God who gave us His only-begotten Son.
Your “frankincense” could be prayer. There are lots of prayers we can offer to God. How about a Morning Offering for a blessed day, a meal prayer, and an evening prayer? Experts recommend that we spend fifteen minutes a day with Scripture in order to listen and learn God’s will. It is a great investment in your spiritual life and, believe me, people need prayers more than ever!
Your “myrrh” could be mortification. This is austerity and self-discipline. A day of fasting, or perhaps abstinence from something you enjoy (TV, Internet, candy) is a good way to strengthen your resistance to sin and atone for the sins of others.
As we celebrate the Christmas Season, may we offer the best to the God who gave us the best in His Son.