Monday, January 9, 2017

3 Lessons from the 3 Wise Men

Kids are back to school, decorations are coming down, and once-thrilling presents are being tossed aside. By all accounts, it looks like Christmas is over, but for Catholics the season officially continues through yesterday’s Epiphany to this Sunday’s Baptism of the Lord. ….to me, that sounds like a good excuse to procrastinate packing up the Christmas d├ęcor one more week!

It also leads me to reflect on the Epiphany, the coming of the Magi. Sometimes called the Three Kings or the Wise Men, the Magi were actually not royalty but astrologers. They have a few things to teach us:
1. Seek Jesus however He is revealed to you.

Being astrologers, the Magi naturally took notice when a new star appeared in the sky. The Shepherds had been visited by an angel. Later, others would be lead to Jesus through evangelists such as John the Baptist and Saint Paul. My point is that there are many different ways for God to lead you to His Son, but He is leading us all in whatever way resonates with us as individuals. All we have to do is keep our eyes and hearts open.

2. When you have found Him, bow down to adore Him.

The Magi were highly important people, but when they arrived at Jesus’s house, they prostrated themselves and did Him homage (Matthew 2:11). It is not enough to simply find Jesus at a surface-level of intellectual belief. We must be willing to change our posture to reverence Him.

3. Offer your gifts.

When I explained to Louisa the three gifts the Magi offered, she wrinkled her nose in confusion. “Why would a little baby want those things?” she asked. I’ve also gotten a kick out of this meme floating around Facebook:

 


In all reality, the gold, frankincense, and myrrh were very valuable gifts which likely symbolized Jesus’s kingship, priesthood, and impending death. The guest-priest at our church made a great point about these gifts which I had never considered. The gifts were their connection to Jesus. Catholics often get a (sometimes deserved) bad reputation for being gluttons for punishment as we “offer up” our fasting, self-denial, and everyday sufferings. While these practices can be fruitful in developing virtue, it is even better to offer up our gifts to the Lord. On the job, we should work with integrity, diligence, and compassion towards our co-workers and customers. If our natural gifts aren’t being used directly at work, perhaps they could be used as a hobby. (ie: I have felt so much more fulfilled since starting this silly-little blog.) By using what comes naturally to us to glorify God, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

But the Magi didn’t stop at just their material gifts. After encountering Jesus, they were willing to risk their very lives for Him by refusing to report back to King Herod, who had plans to kill the infant king. Are we willing to risk persecution or our very lives for Christ?

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