The Gift of the Magi

weekly reflections

By Jenny Labbadia, Communications and Outreach Associate

Sunday’s gospel reading tells us the story of the Epiphany, the feast day for which we just celebrated this past Friday.

The Magi, often referred to as the three kings or the three wise men, come from the East to Jerusalem to ask, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him?”

Hearing this news, King Herod tells them to go and search diligently for the child. He tells the three kings, “When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." The truth is, King Herod feels threatened by the newborn King and wants to kill him.

The Magi listen to the King’s command and follow the star from Jerusalem to Bethlehem of Judea. Upon seeing the star stop, they rejoice.

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (MT 2:9-11)

Though they give physical gifts of gold to represent his royal standing, frankincense his divine birth, and myrrh his mortality, the real gift they give that day is welcome. Despite King Herod’s intention to kill the child, the spirit of welcome and celebration with which the three Magi greet the newborn king is inspiring. After meeting Jesus and his family, the Magi return home rather than to Herod.

Unfortunately today, there are many like the holy family who are forced to flee all they’ve known out of fear for their safety. We are currently facing the biggest migrant and refugee crisis since the Second World War. In the face of this crisis, too many choose to respond to today’s refugees and migrants like King Herod responded to news of Jesus’ birth, with suspicion and ill-intent.

This week, as the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Migration Week, let us all welcome migrants and refugees with the same spirit as the three Magi. What gift will you bring today’s migrants and refugees?

To read this reflection online, click here.

Weekly Reflection on Justice is produced by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, and visiting Columban Missionaries. We hope these reflections help to guide you on your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.