The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is the last big celebration of the Church’s Christmas season. The word “epiphany” means “manifestation” in Greek. This is the day when we commemorate the Lord being manifest to the magi from the East as a newborn King. Led by a star, they found him with his mother and foster father and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold acknowledges Christ as a King. Frankincense professes that he is God. Myrrh recognizes him as man, a human being like us.
For us, the gold we can offer Christ is our allegiance to him. His teachings are not always popular or convenient for us; follow- ing them in all circumstances shows that we are loyal members of his Kingdom. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” These words might be a good short prayer to say anytime we are faced with a decision that involves the teachings of Christ. Frankincense has been a sign of the Transcendent for many ages. The incense we offer is our faith. Of course, this means not only acceptance of a list of truths, but also a way of life. Prayer is paramount in our profession of faith. Living the sacramental life goes right along with prayer. We worship the Lord and we enter into communion with him as the Source of all that we have and all that we are.
Myrrh was a fragrant balm used to anoint bodies for burial. It is an acknowledgment of the humanity of Christ. As the Letter to the Hebrews (4:15) tells us, he was like us in all things but sin. Our myrrh is our acceptance of the joys and sorrows, the possibilities and limitations, of our humanity in union with the Lord. He knows what it is like to be us, because he is one of us. Remembering that he is our Brother sheds wonderful light on the dignity of each human person.
Wise persons still seek him. Today we join the magi in following the star to our Newborn King.