3 KINGS…….JUST LIKE US!
SERMON PREACHED BY FR. TONY NOBLE ON January 2, 2011
St. Matthew 2:11 “Going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshipped him, and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh“.
I suppose that we have the 3 Kings to blame for the giving of gifts at Christmas! It probably started as a simple gesture in the 19th century. Now the giving of gifts so overshadows Christmas that we cannot dissociate Christmas from shopping. The 3 wise men men have a lot to answer for!!
Of course we shouldn’t really blame them. I’m sure they had no idea of the influence of their example some 2000 years later. Like any of us, they did what they thought was right – and they did it to the best of their ability.
They came to worship. Having done so, they returned home not knowing the consequences of their devotion. And that’s how it is for us too. We do things and never know the end result. Like giving to charity or comforting someone in trouble. It is even more-so with things that we say: the effect of our words remains hidden from us. A word of encouragement was so valued – but we never knew it. I’ve heard many stories of people wishing they had expressed their gratitude and appreciation to someone, but lost the opportunity.
Another lesson for us from the three Magi is that sometimes we think we just stumble along, trying to do the best we can. We forget that God uses us, and makes what we do into something important and beautiful. Something full of grace, in fact. We don’t often realize that – but we only need to look at Blessed Mary to see what God can do.
Despite the glorious costumes of the Magi, the importance of their position, and their wisdom, they really are just like us. For example, they are not quite sure where they are going. Their journey was based on science and wisdom – but it depends on simply following a star.
And they do the right thing. They call on King Herod. This is the proper thing to do. He knows less than they do about this promised child, and he expresses what seems to be interest. Did they see through this? Did they see though his fear and his jealousy? Did they suspect that he had less than honorable intentions? We don’t find that sort of discernment easy, so why would they?
In a dream God warned them not to report back to King Herod. Maybe it wasn’t a dream – maybe it was just a hunch? We have hunches……sometimes we act on them, as they did. No matter, they went home another way and never told Herod the great news. You see, they followed God’s hint, and in doing so did the best thing they could ever do for the Christ-child: they saved his life.
Let us not be afraid to take their example, and follow God’s hints in our daily lives.
But what about the 3 gifts? We sing of the the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh in hymns. We know they reveal some truths about this Christ-child. But did the Magi know? Did they understand the meaning of the gifts – or was it just the best thing they had to offer?
When they presented the Gold, did they know that the kingship of Christ will be challenged 2000 years later? And not just by Muslim terrorists – but by Western society, whose worship of materialism is shown by extravagance in Christmas gifts – such as they echoed all those years ago.
And when they presented the Frankincense, did they know that this son of God would be worshipped as the Christ – but that the human heart would still find other idols to worship, and to bow down before?
And when they presented the Myrrh, did they have any idea that this divine king and son of God would have to die on a cross in order to save the world from sin and evil?
Finally, without these 3 mysterious, wise men, these kings, these Magi, there is something missing from the Christmas creche. On Christmas day, the message to the Shepherds was ‘this day is born our Savior, Christ the Lord’. But without the 3 wise men what do we see in terms of the Savior? The scene is of a devout Jewish family and local Shepherds. Whose Lord is there, whose Savior?
In that scene, the Christ-child is the Christ of God’s chosen people. He fulfills the prophecy that out of God’s chosen people would come the Savior. But only as their Savior – the Savior of the chosen people. Without the 3 Kings that’s what he is, Savior only of God’s chosen people.
The 3 Kings proclaim that the Christ is savior of all peoples. Of every nation, every race, every type of person. That he is Savior of the world.
And that is true – because if Jesus is not savior of the world and Lord of All, then He is Lord of nothing.
But he is Lord of all! And as we come together to worship with the Wise men, we know that in this Holy Sacrament, the Lord of all and Word of God is once again made flesh and dwells amongst us.