Monday, January 5, 2015


The Epiphany, the Gifts of the Magi, the Three Kings pay homage prostrating themselves before the Savior, born in a stable, baby lying in a manger.   These are foreigners rejoicing at finding the unrecognized King of the Jews, unappreciated Son of the Eternal God of all creation.   Most importantly these humble Wise Men do homage to God’s merciful Incarnation; then they offer gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  What could these mean, given to a baby?

They’re never mentioned by the adult Jesus, whose gift of self so transcended these treasures.  What was their fate?  The gold, riches of the powerful, are sublimated into the rising smoke of purely offered incense, nothing left on earth in the end but the buried perfumed ointment of the tomb.   Perhaps each one was just meant to presignify, gone as soon as received, the passing human nature, redeemed only in the Resurrection.  Three Wise Men bring signs that our real presence will be in the eternal love of Christ—a place beyond all knowing, surely beyond all worldly gifts.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Mt 6:19-21   How difficult these words are for us, who live in the land of Homeland Security.  God grant us the grace to be humble Magi and give good gifts generously, justly, with divinely inspired detachment.


My language was over-strong.  We don't really know what the Holy Family's neighbors and extended family thought of them, what murmurings did or did not occur.  As Fr. Joe Gagnon pointed out to me, we've no evidence they were thought of as foster father, unwed mother, bastard son.   We do know, however, from scripture's testimony that on the contrary, they are to be forever honored as the most holy and dutiful of families.  Joseph had made good to cover scandal by taking Mary as his wife.  He and Mary had taken great risk however, in so many ways in their society, by accepting God's gift of the birth of our Savior--by becoming the Holy Family so quickly outcast into Egypt.

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