The three gifts


“…they fell down and worshipped him.  Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Catholic edition RSV, Matthew 2:11)

The Wise Men’s journey to Bethlehem was a pilgrimage, not an excursion.  They traversed the desert not to satisfy their curiosity, nor to give themselves a foreign holiday, but to offer their homage and worship to One whom they knew to be more worthy of it than anyone else in the world.

They showed that most clearly by the gifts which they offered to Our Blessed Lord.  Gold, the royal metal, declares him to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Incense, the central gift, expresses the central fact of his Person, that he is the Eternal God who became Man.  Myrrh, foreshadowing his burial when the spice was used, proclaims him as the Saviour, who suffered to save us from the power and consequences of our sins.

And so from our point of view, those three gifts point to our corresponding response to Our Blessed Lord as our King, our God and our Saviour; and that response is nothing other than our threefold response to the first and great Commandment, “…thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…” (Mark 12:30).

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