“Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 8: Gifts of the Magi

I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!

Scripture: Matthew 2:11

glory_cover_finalIn his book about the birth of Jesus, Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict XVI, describes the theological meaning of the gifts that the magi give Jesus:

In the Church’s tradition—with certain variations—the three gifts have been thought to represent three aspects of the mystery of Christ: the gold points to Jesus’ kingship, the incense to his divine sonship, the myrrh to the mystery of his Passion.[1]

In other words, these gifts symbolize that Jesus is king, that Jesus is God, and that Jesus would die for our sins in order to reconcile us to God. But the myrrh also reminds us of Easter. Ratzinger continues:

The myrrh actually appears in Saint John’s Gospel after the death of Jesus: John tells us that Nicodemus had prepared myrrh, among other ointments, for the anointing of Jesus’ body (cf. Jn 19:39). Through the myrrh, then, the mystery of the Cross is once again associated with Jesus’ kingship and mysteriously proclaimed in the worship offered by the wise men. Anointing is an attempt to resist death, which only becomes definitive with decomposition. By the time the women came to the tomb to anoint the boy on Easter morning—a task that could not be carried out on the evening of the crucifixion because of the approaching feast-day—Jesus had already risen. He no longer needed myrrh as a protection against death, because God’s life itself had overcome death.[2]

Reflect on each of the magi’s gifts. How do you show Jesus that he is king of your life? If Jesus is truly God, what does his life and death teach us about God and his love?

1. Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (New York: Image, 2012), 107.

2. Ibid.

One thought on ““Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 8: Gifts of the Magi”

  1. Biblical imagery is often difficult for 21st Century man. We don’t want a King or a Lord to serve. We don’t see ourselves as “slaves” to sin, or “bondservants” to God. These human conditions were well understood in the first century, but have negative connotation for many today. I, for one, am more comfortable with being a “sheep” instead of a “goat”. In being a “worker in the vineyard”.

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