Monday, 7 January 2019

Bringing Christmas
presents and birthday
presents to Jesus

The Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem … a scene at the ‘Live Crib’ in Astee, near Ballybunion, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Is Christmas over?

Did Santa call to your home?

Did you get good presents?

[Discussion]

Barbara and I got a box of biscuits from this school, so thank you.

But, what presents do you think Jesus got for his birthday?

[Discussion]

In Church yesterday (6 January 2019), we heard the story (Matthew 2: 1-12) of the Three Wise Men, the Three Kings or the Three Magi, who brought their gifts, their presents to the Christ Child in the Manger.

Sometimes, in tradition, we tried to give names to these three Wise Men:

● Melchior, a Persian scholar;

● Caspar, an Indian scholar;

● Balthazar, an Arabian scholar.

Caspar is seen an an older man with a long white beard, who is first in line to kneel before the Christ Child and who gives him the gift of gold.

Melchior is a middle-aged man, giving frankincense.

Balthazar is a young man, very often black-skinned, with the gift of myrrh.

So the three presents they bring to Bethlehem goldd, frankincense, and myrrh. They are not the sort of presents I ever got as a child. So, what do you think there mean?

● Gold is a symbol of that Christ is a king – The King.

● Frankincense is used to give a nice smell in the Temple and in many churches – this means Christ is at the centre of our worship – the best example of a priest, the one, true priest.

● Myrrh is used later to anoint his dead body after his death on the Cross on Good Friday.

So these are presents not just for a priest, a prophet or a king, but gifts for God.

It means too that we must always make a connection between Christmas and Easter.

What gifts do we have to offer Christ?

If you wanted to give a gift to Christ, what would you bring him?

[Discussion]

No matter what gifts we bring, how rich or humble we are, they are acceptable to God.

But the best gift of all is the one God gives us is the gift of his Son, born as the Christ Child at Christmas. And this is the gift that gets us to love God and to love one another.

‘Star of Bethlehem’ (1887-1890) by Edward Burn-Jones (1833-1898) … the largest watercolour of the 19th century, and now in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

This reflection was prepared for a school assembly on 7 January 2019

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