Did you get some good presents? Christmas is of course a time to give and receive gifts. We buy presents for others before Christmas and are then encouraged to buy presents for ourselves during the post-Christmas sales. It began with God giving us Jesus as a gift and continues with the wise men travelling to Bethlehem to gift Jesus some gold, frankincense and myrrh. Since then we’ve really picked up this idea and ran with it. In Australia alone, it is predicted we will spend more than $11 billion on presents which makes the arrival of the credit card bill in January such a fearful time!
We are looking at the wise men in our reading today for Epiphany. What is interesting is that these men, who are not Jewish, have undertaken a long and dangerous journey to see Jesus. They are called by God and follow God’s leading, firstly to Jerusalem and then on to Bethlehem seeking the child who is born “King of the Jews”. When they find Jesus they are “overcome with joy” and they present their gifts to Him in honour of Him. It stands as a counter to Herod and the scribes who do not recognise Jesus as King and sets up the conflict between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of God that continues through Matthew’s gospel.
Today I am asking us to see the wise men as good examples for us to follow. They are prepared to be led by God towards Jesus and go where God leads them. When they see Jesus they recognise He is the true king and not only offer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but in their paying homage, they offer gifts of themselves. Thereafter they remain open and obedient to the call of God. Are we prepared to undertake a long journey to find Jesus? Are we willing to be taken out of our comfort zones and be led to foreign places, obediently following God’s leading? Are we prepared to offer our gifts, our selves, to Jesus, in love and service? That’s that the wise men do, and in doing so, point the way for others to do likewise. If we do the same we will point the way for others too! May we give the best present we have to Jesus, ourselves. What a great New Year’s resolution that would be.
(Adoration of the Magi – Rembrandt)