2021-01-03Epiphany of the LordRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

There is a great story written by the author O. Henry entitled The Gift of the Magi. If you do not recognize the title now, I am sure that you will remember the story when I talk about it.

The story is about a young married couple who do not have much money but they both want to buy each other a nice gift for Christmas. She would like to give her husband a watch chain for his gold watch but, as I mentioned, she does not have much money. Then she gets an idea. She has beautiful long hair. She decides to cut off her hair and sell it to buy the chain for his watch.

On Christmas Eve she returns home with her gift that contains the gold chain that she has purchased with her hair. Before she gives the gift to her husband, she worries whether he will be disappointed with her short haircut.

When her husband sees her short hair, he has tears in his eyes but he says nothing. He hands her his gift which is beautifully wrapped. When she opens it, she cannot believe what she sees. There in the box is a set of beautiful combs for her long hair.

Now the realization hits for both of them: He has sold his gold watch to buy her combs for her hair. She has sold her hair to buy a gold chain for his watch.

Some people think the ending of the story is tragic but most people think it is a beautiful ending. What makes it beautiful is not the gifts but rather the love that the gifts symbolize.

I am sure that O. Henry called this story The Gift of the Magi because the gifts of the Magi were also filled with a lot of symbolism and love.

The first gift that the Magi gave the Christ child was myrrh. Among ancient people myrrh was used to prepare the dead for burial. The gift of myrrh, therefore, is symbolic of the humanity of Jesus. Like us, Jesus experienced the whole range of human emotions: sorrow, fear, frustration, loneliness. He was like us in all things but sin.

Frankincense, the second gift, was used in religious worship. The aroma and the smoke rise to heaven. This speaks of the divinity of Christ.

Finally there is gold. Gold was regarded as the king of all the metals. Therefore, it was an ideal gift for a king and Jesus Christ was that king.

The word Epiphany means manifestation. On Christmas, Jesus is manifested to the Jews but on Epiphany Jesus is manifested to the non-Jews or Gentiles or you might say Jesus is made known to all nations as symbolized by the three kings.

Jesus came to set up God`s kingdom on earth. He came to set up a new world, one in which there would be no more grief, no more pain, no more sorrow, one in which the needy man and the needy woman would find loving friends.

This was the message the he preached to his disciples. It is the good news that he wants us to carry into the world. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give during this holy day season.

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