They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
What is the Epiphany of the Lord all about? We know that the Magi followed a miraculous star that led them to the baby Jesus. The word Epiphany means “manifestation”. Epiphany comes from the Greek words epi phanos: “to appear”. Jesus was manifested to the Gentile world, as represented by the three Magi. We can also say that Jesus’s Baptism in the Jordan river and the Wedding Feast at Cana (first public miracle) are also times where Jesus reveals Himself.
What about the gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus? It seems that gold is an appropriate gift to give a king, but frankincense and myrrh seem a bit unusual. All the gifts are symbolic. At the time of Jesus, gold was regarded as the king of metals. Jesus is a king, but we know, not like earthly kings. Jesus ruled by love. His kingdom is the kingdom of God. His subjects are his disciples, you and me, who share in the kingdom. We have a responsibility to grow the kingdom of God on earth which Jesus started. Frankincense represents the divinity of Jesus. Incense was used by ancient peoples in their worship. The smoke, rising up to heaven, reminded them of divinity. We also sometimes use incense at Mass, incensing the altar, the Book of Gospels and at a funeral Mass, the casket. Finally, myrrh represents the humanity of Jesus. Ancient peoples used myrrh in preparing a body for burial. Jesus’s body, after His death was also prepared with myrrh by the holy women. Jesus, being fully human, experienced all human emotions, from joy, rejection, fear, sorrow etc.
What is the practical message of the Epiphany of the Lord? We must lead others to Jesus. We must be a star, shining the light of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know Christ or have fallen away. In order to do so, we must be walking in the light of Christ ourselves.
May God bless us all always!