THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
OFFERING OUR THREE GIFTS
Feast of the Three Kings
On this Feast of the Three Kings (Epiphany of our Lord), we
focus on the three gifts brought by the kings (or the magi).
They “offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
(Mt 2:11d). We are familiar with gold but not the other two.
is, even today, a most precious metal. Frankincense is a fragrant
gum resin used in ancient times in religious rites and in
embalming. It was one of the consecrated incenses used in
Jewish religious ceremonies. When burnt it emitted a fragrant
odor, and the incense was symbol of the Divine name, its smoke
symbolizing prayer rising to the heavens. It was also used
for medicinal purposes. Myrrh is an aromatic gum resin with
a bitter and slightly pungent taste. It derives from the Aramaic
word “murr” meaning “was bitter.”
It was so valuable in ancient times that it had been equal
in weight value to gold. It has been used throughout history
as a perfume, incense and medicine. It is effective for the
cure of many diseases. It was also used by the ancient Egyptians
for the embalming of mummies. Used for burials, it symbolized
three gifts were fitting tributes to Jesus. Gold is a fitting
offering for a king, and indeed Jesus is the King of all kings.
Frankincense is a fitting offering to the Supreme Being in
the heavens, and indeed Jesus is God. Myrrh is a fitting offering
to the bitter cup that has to be drunk and the death that
has to be undergone, and indeed Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb
on the cross. On the cross he was offered wine mixed with
myrrh, and Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes for his burial.
Jesus is the all-powerful King who is Almighty God, but who
has to suffer death in agony on the cross.
frankincense and myrrh are used for worship and for medical
treatment of people, thus relating to both God and man. Both
frankincense and myrrh are used for medicine and for burial,
thus relating to both life and death. Frankincense and myrrh
connect God to us and us to God. They remind us that our life
came from God, and at the end of our life we look to return
three gifts have to do not only with Jesus, but also with
us. We are offerers of these gifts. We recognize Jesus as
King, and we are his servants. We worship Jesus as God, and
we are God’s children. We look to Jesus drinking the
bitter cup, and we are his soldiers doing battle on earth,
suffering and dying for his cause.
offer these three gifts to Jesus is to be his disciple. If
we wish to come after him, we deny ourselves, take up our
cross, and follow him. To deny oneself is to be a servant,
working tirelessly and sacrificially for the Master. To take
up one’s cross is to be a soldier, engaged in spiritual
warfare under the banner of the cross. To follow him is to
be a Son, restored by him to being children of God.
we relate to God in this way, we also relate to each other,
as part of the body of Christ on earth. We do not only offer
our individual gift to God, but we together offer our gifts,
like the magi. As such, being servants, sons and soldiers
in our relationship to God, we are also, as Paul described
Epaphroditus, co-workers, brothers and fellow soldiers (comrades-in-arms)
in our relationship with each other. As such we serve together,
we love one another and we assault the kingdom of darkness
as an army.
We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus, we continue to
prostrate ourselves before him and do him homage (Mt 2:11b),
and now we have offered our gifts of gold, frankincense and
us go forth into the world and boldly proclaim Jesus as King
and Lord. “May all kings bow before him, all nations
serve him.” (Ps 72:11).