The Epiphany of the Lord
“Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” What a wonderful example the Magi give us in their visit to the infant Jesus. First of all, they demonstrate profound faith in God’s word, spoken through the prophet Micah: “And you, Bethlehem … from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel” (cf. 5:2). Embarking on a long and difficult journey, they trust that they will find this newborn king of the Jews in Bethlehem as the prophecy announced.
On their arrival at the home of the Holy Family, the Magi also give us an example of profound humility. These important men, to whom kings look for guidance and advice, do not hesitate to bow down, to “prostrate themselves” and give homage to a tiny babe. Putting their own position out of their minds, they reverently worship the infant Lord even as he sits on the lap of his mother.
The generosity of these three “kings” is also evident as they open their treasure boxes and give to the poor child the richest of gifts. Traditionally, we understand the gold to symbolize the earthly kingship of Christ, the frankincense to represent his divinity, and the myrrh to stand as a symbol of the anointing he will receive upon his death.
Finally, the wisdom of these men is evident in their decision to return to their country “by another way.” Understanding the threat that King Herod posed to Jesus, they followed a plan that would help keep the divine child safe even though it meant inconvenience to themselves.
Faith, humility, generosity, and wisdom. These gifts are the real legacy of the Three Kings. Today, let us ask God for the blessing of having these gifts in our lives.