Continuing Christmastide into the New Year, this Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-12) recounts the story of the Magi, wise men who came from the east to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews. When the Roman-appointed King Herod heard about these men searching for a newborn king, he became worried about facing a challenger to his throne. Plotting to kill the baby Jesus, he tried to trick the Magi into revealing the Holy Family’s location.
From there, the Magi followed the Christmas Star to the home of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Despite being followers of a pagan religion, when they discovered the Christ child, they fell to their knees and paid homage to Him. And they gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh before traveling back to their home country.
This story is especially poignant because it shows God’s revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles three decades before Our Lord’s public ministry. Even before His first day on earth, Jesus was chosen to open the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone in the world.
The Magi’s gifts themselves are also significant. Gold was associated with royalty, recognizing Christ’s kingship. Frankincense, used in liturgies to lift prayers up to heaven, signifies Jesus’ divinity. And myrrh, an oil used both to consecrate priests and to anoint the dead, illustrates his humanity and coming Passion.
These gifts can mean something more for us as we begin a new year. Let gold remind us to shine in the world with the light of Christ and His loving goodness. Let frankincense remind us to pray always, to keep Christ in our hearts and on our lips. And let myrrh inspire us to make small, daily sacrifices to grow closer to God and to help our friends and neighbors along the way.
In these ways, we can truly pay homage to our Lord and help reveal Him to a world in great need. – By Chris Brooks