St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu
MASS TIMES:
Monday 5pm
Tuesday - Thursday 8:15am
Saturday 4:30pm
Sunday 8:30am and 10:30am

CONFESSION TIMES:
Saturday 3:30pm or Sunday 9:45am
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change
Placeholder text, please change

A Message from Laurie: The Epiphany

“We three kings of Orient are; bearing gifts we traverse afar…”  The rhythm and solemnity of this popular carol take us on a journey not only to ancient Israel but also to the realization of our own salvation.  These men of mystery from a far away land follow a bright star to find a baby, bow to him, and give him some of the most unusual of gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Only Matthew mentions these magi in his Gospel, but their coming is of such great significance that their arrival is celebrated on its own feast day, the Epiphany, January 6, the last day of the Christmas season.  An epiphany is a manifestation, or a moment when something is seen in a very clear way.  The coming of the magi and the significance of their gifts are a clear indication that the baby they were led to was no less than extraordinary.

 

The second verse of the song, “Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, gold I bring to crown him again…” tells us quite clearly of the significance of the gift of gold.  The baby Jesus was King, for precious gold was only fitting for royalty.  Remember that King Herod was nervous about this and had all male children under the age of 2 in Judea killed to protect his throne.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fled to Egypt to evade this massacre.  Jesus carried the title King of the Jews all the way to his cross where the sign INRI (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews) was mockingly nailed above his head.  Jesus’ title as King, though, was not of any earthly kingdom, but of Heaven, and he will go to great extremes to make it possible for us to join him there.

 

Our popular Christmas carol then goes on to tell us that Jesus received frankincense.  Frankincense was, and still is, made from a tree resin and, when burned by the priests of the Old Testament, gave off a sweet aroma as the smoke rose to the God on High.  It is with this gift that the wise men acknowledge the divinity and priesthood of the baby.  The prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 60:3, “Nations will be drawn to your light,” and in Isaiah 60:6, “Great caravans of camels will come…They will come…bringing gold and incense.”  In addition to burning frankincense, the priests of ancient Israel offered the sacrifices to God.  Jesus offered the ultimate sacrifice, Himself.

 

Lastly, the baby Jesus receives myrrh.  The carol’s lyrics state, “Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom.”  Myrrh, also made from a tree resin, was used to prepare a body for burial.  As sobering as these words of the fourth verse of the carol are, and perhaps out of step with most of our more jovial and uplifting Christmas songs, the truth is that Jesus, the only Son of God, took on human flesh so that he could offer back to his Father the most Perfect Sacrifice of Himself for out eternal salvation.  It is from this truth that our hope is born because, without Christmas, the world would remain devoid of the Easter Alleluias.

 

Although the celebration of the visit of the magi brings a close to the Christmas season, the Epiphany should awaken in us the realization that God, the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Creator of the Universe, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth in human flesh to save us from our sins.  And the fact that this Truth was recognized by not only Jews, but Gentiles, leads us to the reality that He came for all people of all nations.  Let us not leave this Christmas season without bowing down to the King of Kings, acknowledging His humility in taking on human flesh, and thanking Him for His Sacrifice that is our eternal gift.