Today is the “official” close of the glorious Christmas Season and with that, we witness the famous visit of the Magi, also known as the Three Kings and still further as the Three Wise Men. “Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Their gifts to the new-born King are pretty steady and universally familiar. Did you notice anything about the gifts that were exchanged last month? Some would say that the gifts one receives reflects the recipient. If that is true, and it is in some cases, let’s take a look at the three special gifts that Jesus received on this great day of the Epiphany. Gold is certainly for a King and clearly Jesus is the newborn King for us; incense is for worship and worship is for God. Jesus is certainly the God-made-man for us, Emmanuel. Myrrh is an anointing oil that seems to suggest the person who receives it is destined for a divine purpose and destiny. It was also used as way of preserving the body after death. The application, then, is clear for us. This God-King, Jesus who is called and destined to save His people will also one day be prepared for death.
Today is also called Epiphany which adds another great dimension to the day. The First Reading gives us a little clue here as to what to expect this to be: “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.” In some circles, an epiphany is defined as usually a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something that has occurred that brings about an intuitive and sometimes startling realization, discovery or disclosure that had preciously been hidden or at least unseen. People usually exclaim, “Oh, now I get it!” when chancing upon an epiphany-like experience in life. As we close once again this great Christmas Season and continue to embark upon the ocean of God’s providence before us in the New Year, may we all have an epiphany of sorts that makes a positive and spiritual impact on our lives that will last a very long time. May we see what previously was not seen and understand at least one part of the mystery of Christ this year. It is waiting right there for all of us. Then we might truly understand what was said about the first group who encountered their own epiphany when the Gospel recounted that the Magi “departed for their country by another way.”
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. John Milton