“opening up their treasures”
Friday, 8 January 2021
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis asks what can a child do with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Do not these gifts, like the Magi’s whole pilgrimage, show that they are moving in a world of realities that cannot be logically calculated and made functional? Is not this conflict of worlds at the root of Herod’s antagonism to Jesus? The Magi knew well that, if this Child was worthy of adoration, there was nothing they could give him he did not already possess. They offer symbolic gifts, gifts that are a confession of what they take the receiver of their gift to be, gifts that communicate what the gift-bearers are and want to give. The actual treasures the Magi open before Christ refer to the most precious acts of which man is capable. With their gold, they confess him to be king, and thus they “open up” the treasure of the human ability to believe—the Treasure of Faith. With their incense, they worship him as God and thus open up the Treasure of Adoration, the human ability to surrender and turn over one’s whole person to the one true Lord. With the myrrh, which the Jews used for burial, they are announcing his coming Passion and, thus, opening up the Treasure of Evangelization, the human ability to participate in the work of salvation by proclaiming prophetically to the world the redemption wrought by Christ. Their hidden gesture of bending down to the Child (both because he was God and because he was so little and lay so low!) and of offering him mysterious gifts is a constant invitation for us to accomplish in the heart of the world—even if the world does not want either to see or to know it—these acts of love, of praise, and of faithful adherence that will manifest who it is that we have found. By a secret and persistent presence in the midst of the world, such as the Magi’s now secret presence in Herod’s kingdom, love works quietly to sabotage the world’s refusal to welcome its Saviour.
(from Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis.)