A bright star, a star shining bright, beckons the wise men to travel. We are not surehow many magi came, but tradition has it that there were three of them – perhaps  because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold recognized His authority to rule, Frankincense, i.e. incense was used in the Temple to anoint a high priest. Christ, of course is the High Priest. And Myrrh was used in embalming. Christ came to die but also rise again for each one of us. “The three gifts are necessary to convey the true revelation, the true epiphany of who this child is and what he is destined to do.[1]

Caspar, Balthasar, Melchior” complete with crowns and camels, now appear in our crib scene. We duly sing “We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we (have) traverse(d)afar.[2] For it is the Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of God made Man to the nations. “The magi are coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jew, shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be King of the nations.[3]

We are not celebrating the visit of the magi as such, for they “follow the true Star, the King of Kings.[4] In this Feast we are (also) celebrating also the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan and the wedding feast of Cana,”[5] when Jesus is again revealed to the nations.

We too are called to adore the Messiah, the King of Kings.  Thus, St. Gregory Nazianzen preached -

Let us remain on in adoration; and to Him, who, in order to save us, humbled Himself to such a degree of poverty as to receive our body, let us offer not only incense, gold and myrrh..., but also spiritual gifts, more sublime than those which can be seen with the eyes.[6]

Bow down now – before your God, manifest to us all in Jesus our King and Saviour.

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP


[1] https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/epiphany-revealed/

[2] Written by ‎John Henry Hopkins, Jr.

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church #528

[4] https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/epiphany-revealed/

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church #528

[6] https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-magi.html


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