Editor’s Note: The Feast of the Three Kings is January 6th. This year however, since it falls on a Friday, it is being celebrated Sunday the 8th.
I was the kid who knew Santa was real but I never had pictures with him. This was not because my parents were against the jolly man, but it was because I had pictures with other Christmas characters instead.
Instead of pictures of me crying on Santa’s Lap, I sat sobbing on one of three overdressed guys’ laps. Sound awkward? It was. You know exactly what I’m talking about though if you celebrate ‘El Día de los Tres Reyes’ (Three Kings Day). Those guys were dressed as the Magi. (My childhood anxiety – whose lap do I sit on?)
In some cultures Christmas is reserved for prayer, and Three Kings Day is when gifts are received and exchanged. The tradition was that since they brought gifts to Jesus, we would get three gifts from them on the morning of January 6th (under our beds and only if we left grass and water for the camels outside . . . of course.)
I didn’t understand why they simply didn’t place my gifts in a box and ship it. It would have saved them time and the hassle of having to ride camels through my neighborhood. (Keep in mind, I believed reindeer could fly at this point.)
But frankly, the question I should have asked myself was what made them hand deliver their presents, not to me, but to the baby Jesus.
The Magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child and they made themselves present to the infant Jesus. Anyone could have delivered the gifts on behalf of the kings, but they chose to travel for months just to see a “child with Mary his mother” (Matthew 2:11); now that’s a commitment.
What astounds me is that they traveled thousands of miles and they left empty handed. All we remember is that they brought three gifts and we never think about the fact that there was nothing that they took back with them. The only thing they came to do was worship the newborn Christ and give Him gifts.
They had nothing to gain out of their visit to Bethlehem. How often do we go to Mass with the only purpose of worshipping God and not expect anything in return?
If we’re focused on what we can get out of God and not what we can give to Him, then our worship is selfish. Christ is faithful, but when we expect something in return we put Him in a box. Shifting our focus on what we can give Him frees us to receive His love the way He wants to give it.
The Magi did exactly that, and to Christ the true present was their presence.
Ultimately, the best gift we can give to God is our hearts, and in return He gives us His. He doesn’t want just our time, our talents, or our money – but more importantly – to make ourselves present to Him. Jesus talks about this and says, “Father, they are a gift to me.” (John 17:24)
The Magi came and knelt before the child Jesus, because He alone was worth their worship. He wants us to give Him our entire being. That is what He desires the most and He is worth our worship and adoration.
Make yourself present to Him and give Him the present He never stops asking for: your heart.