Today the Church celebrates the moment when wise men from the East arrive bringing gifts for the Baby. Ancient Christians saw this as a bigger feast than Christmas. This feast gives the first inkling that Jesus is not just the king of the Jews, but that His Gospel will be meant for all nations. The three gifts tell us about the child:
- Gold. A gift fit for a king. Jesus sits on his mother’s lap like a throne and receives tribute.
- Frankincense. A gift for the High Priest.
- Myrrh. Used for embalming, it reveals that he will be our Sacrifice and will die for us.
In the course of the holidays I had an important lesson in humility. These readings teach the same thing: the danger of pride and the greatness of humility.
In the first reading, Israel had tried to make itself powerful by alliances with other countries. It failed and went into exile. Now Israel is a more humble country. Pride blinds the other nations; the humble Israel can see clearly. Instead of scraping riches together, God delivers them for His faithful people.
The Gospel teaches the same lesson. The wise men humbly follow the star, ask for directions, and accept the humble child. Herod is too proud to offer Jesus homage; he wants the world to serve him.
I have started praying for humility. Every time I pray for humility, I get humbled in some way. It isn’t fun but it’s necessary. When we are humble we serve the true king. We are able to see clearly and we begin to realize an amazing truth: our God is a humble God.
(8 Jan 2012)
Here’s a little bonus gift. Thanks for listening. Merry rest of the year!