As the Christmas season draws to a close, I reflect on the gifts, both physical and spiritual, that I gave and received this year. I appreciate the clothes, gift cards and the much-needed new vacuum cleaner I received. Even more, I enjoy seeing my twins outside practicing their archery skills with their new bows and arrows, my hard-working, college-age son smile as he plays on his laptop, and my littlest one sit still long enough to put together over 1,000 Legos! And I think back on the opportunity I had to welcome strangers to my home, to pay for a beleaguered mother’s Starbucks, and to spend a little extra time in prayer with my children. But, alas, the gift-giving season is over.
Or is it? I love how the Church, after all the presents from under the tree have been given out and those received have been put away, shares with us the story of the first Christmas gifts. It is as if Mother Church is reminding me that gift-giving season is never truly over. The gifts of the magi are the ones I should always be striving to give.
The first magi gives gold, revealing the kingship of the newborn Baby. What gold have I to give? My good works. Even if all I have to offer is the gold dust of taking time to bend down to listen to my child in the midst of cleaning the kitchen, or picking up the fifth (how is it always an odd number?) dirty sock today without yelling at everyone within a 2 mile radius that this is precisely what I am doing, to God my gift is precious. If I come across a nugget to offer Him, like helping someone in need, this is priceless to God. My charitable actions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, shine brighter in heaven than all the gold on earth.
The second magi gives frankincense, hinting at the unassuming Child’s divinity. My prayers, like frankincense, rise up to Jesus. Recognizing that I am dependent on Him for all my needs, my prayer builds trust in His Divine Providence. Humility and love are, likewise, nurtured when praying to an Almighty God whose love for me was so great that He became like me in order to save me. My prayers, be they beautiful meditations or desperate aspirations, rise before Him declaring my love and trust. What’s more, this generous God turns my prayers into graces and blesses me with them. Incredible! We cannot give to God with Him giving back to us. He will not be outdone in generosity!
The third magi gives myrrh, foreshadowing messianic mission of the Child. This precious, aromatic oil, used to anoint the body upon death, is given to Him whose death sets me free. For my salvation, He suffers and dies a humiliating death. Those who bury Him have no time to properly anoint His body. What can I possibly give in return? My little sufferings. They come to me every day, often in small ways, calling me to die to self. I am not strong enough to suffer greatly, but I can offer up these little sacrifices with great love. Then, little by little, I may find that I have died to self for love of Him who died for love of me.
And so, as Christmas comes to an end and I pack up ornaments, lights, and decorations, I resolve to continue to give – good works, faithful prayers and little sacrifices – in order to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in me year round.
Copyright 2017 Kelly Guest