The early Church told the story of astrologers who noticed a new star they were sure belonged to a very special person. This story was one way of explaining that Jesus has come not only for the Chosen People, but for all peoples, as St Paul writes to the Ephesians in our second reading. The magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts to the child Jesus. These were material gifts that were symbolic of inner gifts. Gold was a sign that the child was king. Frankincense was a sign of reverence for God and symbolic of the child’s priesthood. Myrrh, a spice for burials, is sign of humanity and the child’s prophetic mission.
The age-old tradition of giving gifts is related to the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord when the wise men gave gifts to the new-born king as symbols of homage. In a way, we give gifts during this Christmas season because we believe that gifts given to others are given to Christ himself. Hopefully, we have come to realize that the greatest gift we receive at Christmas is Christ Himself.
At the end of this giving season, it is time to reflect on the inner gifts we can continue to offer to God and to share with one another. We also have to think and reflect about volunteer work which expresses our gratitude to God who has gifted us with our respective talents, time and treasure. Becoming faithful and generous stewards of God’s gift is in keeping with our paying homage to our King and Saviour.
Epiphany is a time to celebrate the truth of God’s presence in our midst. Fully aware God’s presence in our midst, we invoke God’s presence in our lives as we begin a new year.
To conclude this reflection, I would like to paraphrase a prayer used for the blessing of homes which embodies our faith in God’s presence in our everyday life: “Lord, God of heaven and earth, you have revealed your onlybegotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless our homes and all the members of our parish community. Fill us all with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”