"When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage. ‘… They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
Two thousand years later, the marvelous story of the Magi still delights us. All of us, especially the children, love to sing the song "We Three Kings." Just think what a beautiful moment it must have been when the Magi arrived in Bethlehem after their long quest to find the infant Jesus. It is a scene that encompasses all the important themes of our faith: perseverance on the journey, devotion to and seeking out of God, love for Jesus and, of course, generosity.
What a privilege it was for the Magi so lovingly to hand over their treasured gifts. Would that we were there to offer our own. And yet … we still can be modern Magi, if you will, still offer to Christ Jesus gifts that I think would honor him just as importantly as that gold, incense and myrrh of old.
We can offer him the gift of compassion, love and mercy. What better gift to give the Lord than to follow his example? We can give him the gift of compassion in our treatment of others, in our willingness to forgive, in quelling our anger at home and work when others displease us, in empathizing with those who are struggling and who make human mistakes. In his ministry, Jesus time and again asked us to be compassionate. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," he told us.
We can offer him the gift of our trust. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me," Jesus told his gathered apostles. Sometimes, when life is hard and when our spirits are low, it is very difficult to keep our faith. But we must trust in Jesus to see us through. Those words said to the first apostles were not a statement, but a promise — for them and for us now. Give Jesus the gift of your trust.
We can offer him the gift of discipleship. One by one as he selected them, time and again, Jesus said to his disciples, "Follow me!" If we are to call ourselves Christian, if we are to be disciples, then let us truly follow him — in our thoughts, words, relationships and deeds. Let us work to be true disciples not just at Sunday Mass but in every aspect of our lives.
We can offer him the gift of charity. A core act of our Catholic Christian faith is to reach out to others, especially the poor among us. We can give our Savior, who spent every waking moment on this earth helping others, no greater gift than to share our blessings with others and to be mindful of those who have not. Your charity will not go unnoticed: "Give, and it will be given to you," Jesus said. "A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
We can offer him the gift of faith. Above all, let us, like the Magi, never stop seeking out a deeper relationship with Christ through our prayer, our actions and in our living out of the Gospel message. Let us constantly strive to learn more about our faith and practice what we have learned. This is a lifelong journey, which we take as individuals and as a community of faith. Let us anchor ourselves in the Word, which forms us and guides us.
Pope Benedict XVI, on the occasion of the Feast of the Epiphany in January of this year, which commemorates the Magi’s visit to the manger, said, "It is the Word of God that is the true star, which, in the uncertainty of human discourses, offers us the immense splendor of the divine truth."
Like the Magi, "let us allow ourselves to be guided by the star, which is the Word of God, let us follow it in our life, walking with the church, where the Word has pitched its tent," the pope said. "Our way will always be illumined by a light that no other sign can give us. And we, too, will be able to become stars for others, reflection of that light that Christ made to shine over us."
Peace to all, and Merry Christmas!