Feast of the Epiphany: The gifts of the Magi were both practical and prophetic.

christmas

by Doug Lawrence

The nation of Israel managed to kill every prophet God sent to them. Jesus, the prophesied Messiah, and a prophet in his own right,  would be treated similarly. So the gift of myrrh … typically used to prepare the dead for burial … was indeed both practical and prophetic.

Since the time of Moses and Aaron, the burning of incense in the Tabernacle/Temple had always been a priestly function, and it remains so, even  today. Jesus was and is our heavenly high priest, so the gift of frankincense was indeed both practical and prophetic.

Gold was a gift fit for a king. According to 1st Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14 and 19:16, Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Besides, the gold would come in handy for expenses, during the Holy Family’s subsequent flight to Egypt. So, the gift of gold was indeed both practical and prophetic.

The concept of the promised Messiah as the God-man who was also priest, prophet and king is now widely understood, but that certainly was not the case in the Middle East, around the beginning of the 1st century. Yet, on the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the fact that the Magi somehow managed to get it right.

Practical and prophetic, indeed!

Are you a Mary, a Joseph, a Wise Man, or a Shepherd?

Let’s try to recapture the riches of this lost worldview by applying the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world — but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

There are two ways to connecting the historical and the spiritual senses. The Jesuit method, from St. Ignatius’ “Spiritual Exercises,” tells us to imaginatively place ourselves into the Gospel stories. The older Augustinian method tells us to look for elements of the story in our lives. We shall be using this latter method as we survey the scene in Bethlehem for the next four weeks.

Look at your Nativity set. Around the Christ Child you see four people or groups: Mary, Joseph, the wise men and the shepherds. We are all around the Christ Child, defined by our relationship to Him; we are all Marys, Josephs, wise men or shepherds.

Read more of the article by Peter Kreeft