“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were OVERJOYED at seeing the star, and on entering the house THEY SAW THE CHILD with Mary his mother. They PROSTRATED themselves and DID HIM HOMAGE. Then they opened their treasures and offered him GIFTS of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2: 9-11).”
Today the Church celebrates Epiphany or the “manifestation” of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. In the wise men (magi) are represented all people of every nation, language and race who set out, called by God, to adore Jesus, moved by their innate desire in search for the Truth. Perhaps, it is worthwhile to consider the following ideas in our personal mediation as we contemplate the Gospel for today’s Mass:
- The wise men from the east SET OUT INTO THE UNKNOWN, TO THE UNCERTAIN, LEAVING BEHIND ALL THE WEALTH, COMFORT AND THINGS IN THEIR OWN KINGDOMS, thus teaching us the importance of courage, determination and DETACHMENT from material things in order to find God and savor the spiritual.
- They were learned men with restless hearts, driven by their quest for God, unsatisfied with the material well-being they had in their countries of respective origins, but rather courageous TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO FIND GOD, teaching us THAT THE ONLY IMPORTANT THING IN THIS LIFE IS TO FIND JESUS.
- Their journey was not comfortable. They must have travelled and slept in conditions to which they were not used to. But they did not complain, they did not give up. They were able to surmount the innumerable difficulties of their expedition moved by their faith and desire to be with Jesus. WHEN THE STAR DISAPPEARED, THEY DID NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP, SHOWING US that WISDOM AND HUMILITY GO HAND IN HAND. In our journey towards Jesus, we need the help of SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, knowing that: “one’s own mind is a bad adviser, a poor pilot to steer the soul through the storms and tempests and among the reefs of the interior life. That is why it is the will of God that the command of the ship be entrusted to a Master who, with his light and his knowledge, can guide us to a safe harbor (St. Josemaria, The Way, n.59).”
- When they saw where that the star led them to “THE CHILD WITH MARY HIS MOTHER”, they were OVERJOYED, “they PROSTRATED themselves and DID HIM HOMAGE”. They did not say to themselves interiorly: “Is this all that there is?” “Did we have to suffer the entire journey just to find a child?” No. They REJOICED WITH AN UNCONTAINABLE JOY, they ADORED, PAID HOMAGE and OFFERED GIFTS TO THE GOD-CHILD. THIS WAS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY WERE HUMBLE AND THEY HAD FAITH! LEARNED, WISE MEN, KINGS, RESPECTED IN THEIR COUNTRIES…ADORING THE GOD-CHILD! Their science, knowledge and wisdom did not at all impede them to recognize the Messiah, the Savior of the world, God-Child, humbling themselves and worshipping him.
- LIKE THE WISE MEN, we, too, can RECOGNIZE, ADORE AND WORSHIP GOD ONLY WITH HUMILITY AND FAITH. But let us not forget THAT JESUS PRESENT IN THE TABERNACLE IS THE SAME JESUS THE WISE MEN FOUND IN MARY’S ARMS. With what devotion, reverence and love do we have towards Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or during the Holy Mass?
- “The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin. Dear friends, this is the mystery of God’s call, the mystery of vocation (Pope Benedict XVI, Speech, World Youth Day in Cologne 2005).” ARE WE WILLING TO EMBARK ON THE JOURNEY TOWARDS JESUS, WITH A “DETERMINED DETERMINATION” (ST. TERESA DE AVILA), WITH FAITH, HUMILITY AND PERSEVERANCE OF THE THREE WISE MEN IN ORDER TO FOLLOW THE STAR OF OUR VOCATION TO HOLINESS TO WHICH GOD HAS CALLED US? ARE WE WILLING TO OFFER TO JESUS, NOT ONLY OF GOLD, INCENSE AND MYRRH, BUT RATHER THE MOST VALUABLE POSSESSIONS WE HAVE: OUR HEART, OUR WILL, OUR LIFE?
“O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy that we who know you already by faith may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory (Opening Prayer, Mass during the day).”
Happy Three Kings to you and your loved ones!
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-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
1. For more information on WHO WERE THE THREE MAGI, see Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives,” Chapter IV, Random House 2012.
2. WHAT DO THE GIFTS GOLD, INCENSE AND MYRRH SIGNIFY?
The gifts the Magi offered — gold, frankincense and myrrh — were those most valued in the East. People feel the need to give gifts to God to show their respect and faith, giving what is most valuable and dear to them.
The prophets and the psalmists foretold that the kings of the earth would pay homage to God at the time of the Messiah (Is 49:23). The Gentile nations would offer him their treasures (Is 60:3-6) and gifts of gold and frankincense to the God of Israel and adore him (Ps 72:10-15). Through this action of the wise men and the offering of their gifts to Jesus, these prophecies begin to be fulfilled.
Allegorically, the gifts signify the mystery of Christ as King (gold, being a symbol of royalty); as Perfect God (incense which is offered to the Divinity) and Perfect Man (myrrh, a burial ointment, pointing to His Passion and Death).
“Morally (St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evan. 10): the treasures signify the gifts we present to Christ in our daily lives. Gold is Christ’s wisdom, which shines in us, frankincense is the prayer and adoration we give him (cf. Rev 8:3-4), and myrrh is our daily self-sacrifices (10:39; cf. Rom 12:1) (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, commentary of Scott Hahn to Mt 2:11).”
SUGGESTED READING FOR MEDITATION:
BENEDICT XVI, SPEECH DURING THE VIGIL OF THE WORLD YOUTH DAY IN COLOGNE 2005: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2005/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20050820_vigil-wyd_en.html
JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA DE BALAGUER, “The Epiphany of Our Lord” in “Christ is Passing By” http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by-chapter-4.htm