I was watching the news one day, and a reporter did a segment on people who approach strangers in stores, those who look like they could use some help in buying gifts and paying the bills – and they offer them cash, ranging anywhere from $100 to $500. They’re called “Secret Santas” and, despite the Santa hat they wear, prefer to remain completely anonymous. They do not wear any identification and they do not want their faces photographed. But imagine how it must feel to be on the receiving end. Those who were caught on camera were not only in shock, but accepted the gift in gratitude and tears of joy – despite the adage: “Be leery of strangers bearing gifts.” Well, I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when they were approached by three strangers, Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior. According to Matthew’s account of the Epiphany, these were the Magi, astrologers from the East. “How did Mary and Joseph perceive these three men? And did they understand why these strangers were paying homage to their son? Perhaps in that moment, Mary remembered the words of the angel, Gabriel, to her. Maybe the arrival of the Magi triggered the dream St. Joseph had about the name he would give to the Virgin’s child and his role in God’s plan.
On the Epiphany, the Church does not celebrate the Magi but the infant Jesus: the newborn King, Jesus Christ. From one
side, it appears that the baby Jesus was on the receiving end of these Magi, as he is presented with three gifts.
From another side, it is God who is presenting the human race with the gift of his Son. In doing so, God offers us salvation, which is to say, immortality, but not just life eternal. He also promises that this immorality will be experienced in a state of beatitude, that is, perpetual joy with him, the Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints – yes, all the redeemed, in Heaven. But there’s only one way to get this gift, we have to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. There’s no need to be leery when it comes to accepting God’s gift to us. After all, Jesus is the absolute mediator to oneness with God. It is Jesus who personally joins us to our God and to the new humanity of the redeemed. It is Jesus who initiates us into the life of the Holy Trinity. Imagine, we actually participate in the life of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And it is Jesus who wants us to spend eternity with him in joy, in Heaven.
Like the recipients of the Secret Santas – let us accept this gift of Jesus by opening the coffer of our heart to him. It is this gift of self-donation, this gift of our love that this “Baby” desires more than anything in the world.
Father Comandini is managing editor of The Catholic Spirit .