This Sunday, January 7, we’ll hear a reading from the Book of Isaiah that foretold the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family at Epiphany. The passages are laden with joy, hope, and the glory of God.
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. (Is 60:1-6)
The Savior has come, and his glories shine forth so magnificently that dignitaries from distant lands travel to pay him homage. They bring gifts befitting a king – coffers filled with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts, however, aren’t fitting for just any king; they’re fitting for the King, the God-Man who was born of the Virgin and who will die so that all may live. This King they come to worship is the Christ.
What the Wise Men knew we must yet learn – this King is deserving of our homage and fidelity. This King deserves the very best gifts we can give.
What should those gifts be?
The gifts that the Magi brought to our Lord were gold, frankincense and myrrh – valuable substances with great symbolism.
Gold is for kingship.
Frankincense is for priesthood
Myrrh is for anointing of the dead
Obviously, we wouldn’t give the King those same gifts materially. But, perhaps we should consider giving them spiritually. Perhaps, it’s their symbolism that should become our gift to the King.
Spiritual gold by honoring Jesus as King of our hearts.
Spiritual frankincense by making extra efforts to participate more fully and attend more often Holy Mass.
Spiritual myrrh by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently, performing acts of penitence, and giving thanks for our Lord’s suffering and death for our sake.
That verse, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you,” keep echoing in my head and heart. Rise up. Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do for the King this coming year.
Every year, there’s so much talk about New Year’s resolutions. That’s a good thing, usually. But, I find that most resolutions are shallow in that they focus on exterior things – weight loss, quitting a bad habit, being more productive and the like. Not often do I hear about a resolution that focus on the interior – our faith, our fruitfulness, or our relationship with the King.
What’s the use of improving on the outside when we stay the same on the inside?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot as we prepare as Church to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany. I’ve been considering the Magi and their journey across the lands, led by the Star that marked the birthplace of the King. I’ve been considering those three coffers and their precious contents. I’ve been considering how I can spiritually become one of the Magi and bring to the King coffers of valuable spiritual substances with profound symbolism.
Rather than a New Year’s resolution for 2018, I want to have a New Year’s Direction. The direction I’m taking is to fill my coffers and follow the Star to the place of the King so that I may pay him homage and worship.
Just for fun, I looked up “gold, frankincense and myrrh sets” on Amazon to see what they might have by way of a visual reminder of my New Year’s Direction. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had many options! I’m considering ordering a set and placing it in my prayer corner for the year. Perhaps you’d like one as well.