There is a great slogan that is often seen today on billboards and bumperstickers. It says, “Wise men still seek Him.” And it’s true. Those who are wise still seek to be close to Jesus — to know Him more intimately and to love Him more profoundly. This is what we celebrate this Sunday on the Feast of the Epiphany. The three Magi were probably wise men from Persia. There is no evidence that they were necessarily kings, but they would have been pagan astronomers familiar with Judaism and prophesies about the Jewish messiah. This is why the large star would have appealed to them: God was already showing the pagans that salvation had come to them. This first epiphany is significant because it is the first time pagans (non-Jews) come to adore Jesus.
Even more significant are the gifts that the Magi bring. I offer for your reflection the meaning of each gift and how we as Gentile Christians, as Catholics in East Texas, can offer spiritual gifts to Christ this new year of 2016. The first gift: gold, a gift fit for a king, but a practical gift. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were poor. They needed money to provide for Jesus’ needs. Like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we have needs in this Catholic community. Maybe we can look deeper into how we give. Do we give God our left-overs, or do we give Him the very best? We have to give God the sacrifice of our time, talent and treasure if we want the kingdom of Christ to grow in our town.
The second gift: frankincense, a gift for God. In the sacred liturgy, you will notice incense being used at many Masses in the Diocese of Tyler on Sundays. It is a sign of God’s presence and our prayers arising before Him. In our daily lives, when we are not at church, are we really taking time to pray, to adore God, at least in the morning and in the evening? A daily rosary? If we struggle with this, let us resolve to make our daily prayer a gift for Jesus in 2016.
The third gift: myrrh, the oil used to anoint Levitical priests in the Old Testament, but also an oil used to embalm a dead body. This is another epiphany (manifestation) about Jesus, His mortality and His destiny in God’s plan of salvation. In our lives, myrrh can represent our own self-sacrifices throughout our day. They can be little sacrifices in which we die to self, but more importantly, they can be little sacrifices to show our love for Jesus. At the Mass of the Epiphany of the Lord, we offer our lives to worship our King, our God, and our Savior. Come, let us adore Him!
Father Nolan Lowry, STL, is the pastor of St. Edward Parish in Athens, Texas.