The wise men on their journey to Bethlehem, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.
Photo: Enrique Lopez Garre (ELG21), via Pixabay
The Gift Of Ourselves
With the season of Christmas upon us and gifts on everyone’s mind, Fr Adrian Danker invites us to ponder upon the wise men who paid homage to the infant Jesus, and how we can be a gift to God.
As you look forward to opening the Christmas gifts you have received this year, which one are you most anticipating? Why? Is it because you know it will be filled with love? Is it something you really need? Gifts are a big part of the Christmas season. We give them to one another and we receive them from others. They express our Christmas joy to family and friends, and represent our gratitude for them in our lives. Most of all, they symbolise our love for one another.
The visit of the wise men
The passage in Matthew 2:1-12 presents us with a picture of gift-giving. The Magi came to adore Jesus as the new born King. Having heard about His birth, they made the journey to pay Him homage, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These non-Jewish wise men represent people from different parts of the ancient world. By adoring Jesus, they acknowledged who Jesus is: the Saviour of all peoples. By searching for Jesus, coming to Him, and bowing down to adore Him, God revealed to the world, through them, the truth that Jesus is the light of God’s saving love for all the nations, including us. This image of gift-giving helps us to reflect on how we can live our Christian faith better as we take our first steps into the next year.
God’s desire for our friendship
The Magi were wealthy and learned scholars — in stark contrast to the ignorant, simple folks in Bethlehem — yet the star drew them to Jesus too. They could have dismissed this as just another star, but their wonder moved them to search for a divine truth. The wise men challenge us to not take for granted God’s most precious gift at Christmas — His Son, Jesus. God Himself does not take us for granted. Whether simple and poor like the shepherds, or learned and rich like the Magi, God comes to us because we matter a lot to Him, even if we are far from being saintly. In Jesus, God is with us; He comes to us simply because we are God’s own and good enough for Him. Through Jesus, with Jesus and in Jesus, God comes to us because He wants to be with us. Everything Jesus did and said on earth expresses this: “You and your friendship are what I desire most”. If this is what God wants of us by giving us Jesus, then it would be good for us to pause today and ask ourselves, “What gift can I give to God this year?” The Magi brought extravagant gifts from their lands; maybe we too can bring gifts from the treasury of our lives.
“Let us all gift the Lord the precious gift of ourselves — the gift of who we truly are, the gift of all we say and do in this season of Christmas. The real ‘you’ is who God truly wants to befriend.”
Giving back to God
What might some of these rich and precious gifts be that we can present to Jesus who reveals the face of God’s love? Perhaps we can bring to Jesus the gift of our time for prayer, or offer Him our treasured energy to care more for others in need. We might want to give Him the gift of our forgiveness by reconciling with a family member or friend who has hurt us. We can offer Jesus the gift of our sincerity and determination to give up our bad habits. How about the precious gift of ourselves — the gift of ourselves as we truly are, the gift of all that we say and do? I believe God is not asking us to give ourselves as we would like to be seen, like a nicely wrapped-up Christmas present. No, God is asking us to be our honest true selves — ordinary people who want to live good Christian lives no matter how much we struggle with our sinful ways. The real ‘you’ is who God wants to befriend. And we know this is God’s deepest desire because God came to be with us as one like us. Will you and I then be like the wise men, coming before Jesus to kneel before Him who is God-with-us and offer no other gift than ourselves to Him who has bestowed on us all that is good?