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Follow that star

At our baptism rite, we are reminded that Jesus was anointed as priest, prophet and king. The gospel reading for today brings us the story of the Wise Men from the East, the Magi, who presented the new-born Jesus with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

There is an obvious parallel here with our baptism. Gold is a gift for a king, something that was considered a must gift when approaching a monarch in Jesus’ time. It is also the king of metals, so is a fitting gift for a king of the people. Jesus was a king, but born to reign, not to rule by force, but
by love. His kingdom is the hearts of the people, where there is no throne, but only a cross. Nevertheless, he still demands that we surrender our lives to him.

Frankincense is a gift for a priest, for use in temple worship and sacrifices, where the sweet perfume rose up as a gift to the Lord of heaven. The priest opens the way to God for the people.

The priest builds bridges between the people and God. This is what Jesus did. He opened the way to the presence of God; he made it possible for people to enter into the very presence of God.

Myrrh is a gift at the time of death, used to embalm bodies. Jesus came into the world to live for all people and, in the end, to die for them. He came to give his life and his death.

The gifts of the Three Wise Men offered at the cradle of the Christ foretold that he was to be the true king, the perfect high priest and, in the end, the supreme saviour of all people.

However, the Magi are not the centre of this story nor are their gifts. It is the Epiphany, the manifestation of God’s glory in our world. The focus is on God’s
loving generosity as the God of
the world, of all nations and peoples.

The Three Wise Men are important in the biblical stories, as they were Gentiles. Yet they were able to use their learning and understanding of the stars, history and science, as well as their experience of God to find the new-born saviour.

The human gifts and learning of these Gentiles, together with natural wisdom and biblical prophecy, played an essential role in leading them to the saviour.

The mystery of the Epiphany is well known to us in our day and age, but it isn’t just something in the past. It is a pointer to us of where we can find God’s revelation and a reminder that we need to be open to be surprised, as we never know from whose mouth the most precious wisdom may be spoken.

It is our task to make this star shine within us and to share this great news with others in our lives. We should never limit the places in which we search for our saviour, as the face of God, or the star, can shine in the most unexpected of places.