Fellow alumni, friends, and donors of my service year program have a running prayer email list. Every Sunday and Wednesday, someone is in charge of circulating some reflection, passage, song, etc. How lucky am I that I landed on the Epiphany? Even more so, this reflection gave voice and purpose to some of my frustrations. A-men.
Merry Christmas, Francis Corps Family!
As the New Year begins, I hope that you can take the peace of the season with you. I know that I’m already struggling in doing just this. So many problems, professional and personal, were thrown my way on Monday. I’m still digging out. How easy it is to feel so far from the joy of Christmas!
As I sat to write this reflection, I began to think of the Epiphany. This merry season is not over; the magi are on their way. We can learn from these wise men, such as, their gifts. Sure, they seem rich and majestic, almost inappropriate for an infant. But do you know what their origins are? Have you ever stopped to think about the gifts that the wise men bring? As I researched this, I was amazed!
We know that gold is refined by the fire. Since it is found in ore, it’s tough outer shell is ground down until the most pure, radiant surface is reached. And how about those other gifts? Well, myrrh actually comes from a tree. It is produced as a reaction to a purposeful wound, by bleeding the tree out. Frankincense comes to us in a similar manner. The hard Boswellia tree has its bark slashed, and resins are released. Would you believe that these hardened resins are also known as tears?
Even more inspiring is the benefit that is derived from these gifts. Although it comes from a deep pain, frankincense oil has been used for centuries to treat depression. Myrrh, despite coming from a wound, is used to heal injuries in humans. And we know that gold is one of the world’s most treasured metals. What starts off seeming to be just another rock, transforms into an almost universally accepted basis of exchange.
So, were these gifts just pristine, beautiful objects, or were they offerings of challenges, and life’s painful moments? We may not know, but there are lessons hidden here. We do not need to bring the most immaculate royal gift to Jesus. The most humble gift today may be our trials. The most perfect gift might be the unrefined pieces of our lives, our wounds, our tears. The perfect gift may be the one that is completely and wholly imperfect, as we are.
So whatever you can in this exact moment, imagine bringing your gift to the Christ child in the manager. See His smile, feel His warmth, and know of His gratitude in your heart. He has a use, a plan for all these gifts.
Love and peace to you all in this New Year.