January 4, 2015 – The Epiphany of the Lord

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This weekend’s readings remind us first and foremost, that Jesus came to save everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. It tells us that the radiance and glory of God will be seen by all and that the splendor of the Lord will shine throughout the earth. But these readings mostly speak to us this week about gifts.

On first glance it seems to be a story about how the magi brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby in order to give Him something of value. And on some level this act of homage on their part did point to the kingship of Jesus, His priestly function and His ultimate death. But on second glance, were the magi really giving Jesus something of their own? Or were they just giving back to Him what He had already given them in the first place?

All of us have gifts and talents. Where did they come from? As people of Faith we believe that ALL we have and are is gift and that all of this giftedness has been bestowed on us by the Lord. Nothing we do or have is because of our own efforts, our own creative powers or our own ingenuity. Everything we have and everything we are is gift. Did the magi create the gold? Perhaps they forged it and fashioned it into coins or trinkets, but they did not create it. Did they create the frankincense or myrrh? No. Did they even create their own lives? Of course not; all is gift. What matters is what we do with the gifts the Lord gives us.

The choice is whether we are going to horde the gifts we have for our own selfish entertainment, pleasure, comfort, riches, glory, or power; or whether we are going to offer them back to the Lord as the magi. Can we recognize that the gifts we have been given to us from the Lord and that they were given not for our own glory, but for His? Can we recognize that we will be blessed by giving, not by hording?

What are your gifts? Playing soccer, painting, intelligence, photography, compassion? How can you give back to the Lord all that He has given you? How can you put the gifts and talents He has bestowed upon you at His service?

First, recognize that all gifts come from above and not merely from within ourselves. Second, offer them each day to God in prayer, making a conscience effort to place them at His disposal for His disposal and for the benefit of others. Third, use the gifts He has given you to the best of your ability, always giving your best effort.

It was not easy for the magi to travel to Bethlehem. They encountered struggles, detours, conflicts and days and days of searching in a foreign land far from home. But they knew a king had been born and they wanted to pay that king homage and give Him the best gifts they had to offer. Likewise, our journey will not always be easy, but if we keep our eyes on the prize and always seek to give God our best, to return to Him generously what He has already given to us, then we too, shall one day see the King.

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