Today we celebrate an old feast in the Church where Christ was revealed. We are reminded of three great things: the Wise Men coming from the East; the wedding feast in Cana where the first documented miracle was done; and the Baptism where the Trinity was introduced. Usually in the Latin tradition, we focus on the Magi coming from the East and bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These are also an revelation of who Jesus is. The gold symbolizes His Kingship. The frankincense is used in the worship of God and shows that He is God. The myrrh is a perfume, a little is put in the anointing oil but it is more commonly used in embalming to cover the odor of the decaying body. This manifests that He is man.
When I was thinking about the Epiphany this year, I was thinking about the Wise Men or Magi or Kings as sometimes they are referred to. I was thinking how these were rich men and they were influential men. They were the ones that the kings would consult. They would read the heavens for the king and the people. They came from a long way away. They show that Solomon was a type of Christ. Just as the queen of Sheba came from the East and brought gold and spices to see Solomon, these Wise Men came from the East and brought gold and spices to see Jesus.
Here is what really caught my attention: the anticipation of the Wise Men. They saw a new star and they were familiar with the Jewish Scripture and so they knew something big was up. It probably never had happened that when a new king was born a new star was seen. I am pretty sure when Prince William was born that there was no new star. So, on seeing the star and knowing the Scriptures, they headed to Jerusalem to find the new born King of the Jews. It sounds very logical that a king would be born in Jerusalem, in the palace. Here is another side question I had: what did these Wise Men expect to get when they got there? The Jews were told to stay away from the astrologers who lead people astray to false gods. There was no treaty between the East, which most think was Persia, so what could they gain by making this great journey? What did they think about and expect to see? So they get to Jerusalem and no new born King. But the king they find tells them where to find the King, in Bethlehem. When they head in that direction, the star appears. This is, of course, a weird star that travels backwards from the other stars, but Bethlehem why Bethlehem? Bethlehem is a small out of the way place. It is like Kersley to Quesnel. There is very little in Kersley so why would you go there? What would they be thinking now? God gives a star and it leads them to Bethlehem. They get there (and remember these men were very familiar with kings and royalty, they lived with them, even advised them) and arrive at a house (apparently the Holy Family had moved from the cave by this time) and they do not see a woman dressed like a queen (though I am sure she was queenly) and they do not see a man dressed like a king (though he was Kingly). They see a poor scene. Yet, it impressed them so much that they knelt before the little baby who could grant nothing for them and gave their gifts. Do you think their expectations were met? I am sure it was very different than what they anticipated, yet I believe that they went away feeling that the trip was worth it and that their expectations were exceeded. Because that is what happens when you meet God.
What is my point? Here it is: did you come to Mass with expectations today? Or did you give God a Sunday off? Are you afraid to have expectations when you come here? The Wise Men were not baptized, they were not confirmed, they were not ordained or had received Holy Communion. Yet, I believe that God exceeded their desires. We should have desires when we come here. We should be excited to be in the presence of God. At the evening Mass, I realized I came here not expecting anything and I did that because I was afraid to be disappointed by God. Then I realized that that was the devil stealing my joy, lying to me that God wasn’t good. So I asked for big things and it was actually amazing to me the way God worked. The devil tried to lie to me after Mass as well to say it didn’t happen but I knew by then it was a lie and I thanked God and trusted. You see, you and I have desires. We have expectations and we should because God made the whole world and universe with a Word. Jesus also said that His followers would do greater things than He would, meaning that He would do them through us. So we can and should expect great things, miracles. We should expect to hear God speaking to us because we meet God here. One way to get ready and let our heart expect more is to daily read the Scriptures. The Wise Men did this and this is why the sign made sense. Our journey to Mass is for us more of a journey of the heart where we learn the stories of Jesus and so we know what to expect.
We should also be ready to give as well when we come here. The gifts of the Magi are good suggestions. Frankincense: our lives are meant to be a burnt offering to God, rising up to Heaven. Deacon Paul, in his mission, related a story about how a server forgot to light the charcoal one Mass and when he put the incense in there was no smoke, however, some people coughed anyways. You need a fire to make incense work and our hearts also must be on fire to make our lives pleasing so we can pray for that.
Myrrh was used to cover up the stench of corruption, of rotting flesh. Bringing to our worship myrrh, means to allow Christ to cover up the stench of our humanity, that is sin. He does that in two ways. First, through Baptism and then through Confession. We always should worship God in the state of grace. Remember what Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
Third is gold. We have never been able to exceed gold. It is still the best. That is why we use it in Mass and the worship of God. When we come before God, we need to give Him our best, the best we can offer. If we are a singer, then the best we can do. If a reader, then the best. If we have gold, then we bring God the best. We have to put Him first in our lives. We give Him the best of our day and not merely what is leftover.
Today we can come here with great expectations. It is silly not to because it is God alone who put those desires on our hearts and He exceeds them. When you have asked, immediately thank God so that the thief does not come in and rob your joy.