GIVING GOD OUR VERY BEST

Epiphany of the Lord         

            Hallmark cards have been saying it for years – but it is just as effective today as when they first said it, “IF YOU CARE, THEN SEND THE VERY BEST!” God cares. God sent us his very best, not for one day a year, not for a season or a particular time, but for every moment of every day of our lives. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”

            We celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany (meaning, manifestation). And today’s gospel reading narrates for us once again the visit of the Magi to the newborn king in Bethlehem. It tells us of the gifts of the Magi. It is important to understand the symbolism of the gifts that are offered: Gold: It is the most precious of metals, a symbol of royalty. The Magi acknowledge the newborn Christ as king. Frankincense: It is associated with prayer and divine worship. The Magi profess their faith in Christ’s divinity as Son of God and worship him. Myrrh: It was used to dress wounds and embalm the dead. It symbolized the humanity of Jesus and his capacity to suffer and die for us.

            Moreover, what the Wisemen bring are the finest things they can find – the best gifts worthy of a king. What do they do? What do they bring? They break open their coffers or chest of treasures, and give to this newborn King their best. They give their best to the Child Jesus. This is the key to understanding the meaning, significance and relevance of the feast we celebrate today.

            The Wisemen are teaching us a very important lesson: Once we have encountered our King, once we have encountered Christ, we must give him the best that we have. We must break open the coffers of our heart, our mind, our soul, our body, and offer him our best.

            The great danger of the spiritual life is this: We know Christ, we come to him, we pray to him, we consider him ‘important’ to us… But what do we give him? What do we offer him as our gifts? Well, apparently, we offer him only a piece of our heart, only a piece of our mind, only a piece of our soul. We offer him only a little bit of our time, a little bit of our energy, a little bit of our talent… a little bit of what we have.

            “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The question is: Do I give him the best of my heart, the best of my soul, the best of my mind? Let us be honest as we examine ourselves on this matter: Where do we spend most of our time and energy? Working hard to get our own wants and needs? Pursuing our selfish ambitions and vested interests? Making it to the top and getting ahead of others? Earning big time and getting all we want? Are we not too preoccupied and engrossed with matters we consider to be important and urgent: like earnings and profits, wealth and possessions, career and business, power and control, success and prosperity, achievement and accomplishment, status and privilege, fame and prestige? Are we not too caught up trying to get things for ourselves, trying to entertain, enjoy and indulge ourselves? In short, are we not obsessed with giving ourselves gifts?

            We do not come and pray to Jesus just to have the best things in life. We come and worship him by giving our best, by doing and performing our best by being and becoming the best person God intends us to be and wants us to become.

            The Magi, in today’s gospel, upon arriving in Jerusalem, said, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have come to do him homage.” Our spiritual journey should lead us to say the same thing: We have come to do Christ the King homage. Can we honestly say that our personal life, our family life and our community life are giving homage to Christ the King? Can we honestly say that our personal relationships – with spouse, members of the family, relatives and friends – and our personal affairs are giving homage to Christ the King? Can we honestly say that the way we study and educate ourselves, the way we pursue our dreams, ambitions and careers, the way we do our jobs or practice our professions or conduct business are giving homage to Christ the King?

            “IF YOU CARE, THEN SEND THE VERY BEST!” God cares. God sent us HIS VERY BEST, his Son Jesus. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” Let us also give the Lord OUR VERY BEST. The best of our time, talents, and resources. The best of our ability, creativity, and imagination. The best we have!      

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