During the weeks of Advent we hoped for and awaited the coming of the Messiah. On Christmas we rejoiced in the birth of our savior. Now, on Epiphany we travel with the wise men from the East in order to “do him homage”, in order to adore Christ.
Adoration is the proper attitude of today’s feast. Just as the wise men reveal that the gospel message is meant to go out to all nations and peoples; it also reveals that all peoples and nations are meant to travel to Bethlehem and adore the Christ-child, and do him homage.
But what does it mean to “adore” and how do we know that we are doing it properly? Just as the three gifts offered by the wise men reveal truths about Christ so they also reveal truths about our adoration.
Gold is a proper gift to offer a king. By offering gold the wise men were acknowledging the infant Jesus as the “newborn king of the Jews”. Gold symbolizes the kingship of Christ. Gold is our best that we offer to God in gratitude. God loves us and God wants us to know and experience the joys and beauty of life. In moments of joy and beauty, if we can just turn to God and say “thank you” then we are adoring, we are offering gold to God. We ought to thank God for all the blessings, beauty and joys of life. Gratitude is the gold we have to offer.
Frankincense accompanies worship and sacrifice. It is the stuff of priests. Christ is the High Priest who offers himself as the sinless lamb for us. The gift of frankincense given at the birth of Christ is a foreshadowing of his great sacrifice and offering of himself on the cross. We offer frankincense when we offer prayers and a desire to live in relationship with God. This is part of the great mystery of our faith. God wants relationship and friendship with us, God seeks us out. When we are willing to live in relationship with God, when we make the time to pray and just be with God then we are offering frankincense for ourselves and for our world.
Myrrh is used to anoint bodies at burial. Myrrh given at the birth of our Lord points toward the death Christ would suffer for us. When we are willing to die to self for Christ, when we offer up our pains, sufferings, and even little annoyances of life we are, in essence, bringing myrrh to our Lord. This also is adoration – to bring God our pains, sorrows, dying to self and the injustices we bear in life.
Today, we come to adore. Epiphany teaches us how to adore our Lord and Savior – to bring our joys and gratitudes–this is gold; to bring our prayers and desire to live in relationship with God – this is frankincense and to bring our sorrows, dying to self and the injustices we bear in life – this is myrrh.
Today, we adore.