Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The most famous Christmas décor in the Philippines today would most probably be the parol. This usually star-shaped lantern reminds us of that star in the heavens which led the wise men to the cradle of the newly born Savior. The magi saw this star and understood it to be the sign of the birth of the great King. And so they traveled from afar in search for him and when they saw him, what did they see? They saw that “He was not crowned with a diadem, nor resting on a gilded bed; but scarcely possessed a single tunic, and that served, not for the adorning of His Body, but to clothe his nakedness, and was such as the wife of a poor man, far from her home, could provide.” (St. John Chrysostom, ex Op. Imp.)

And why should he not be ashamed to be found so poorly clad great though he be? It was to reveal to the nations what and who it is that changes the course of the history of the world. “If he had chosen the great city of Rome, men would have said that the transformation of the world had been accomplished by the might of that people. Had he come as the son of the Emperor, they would attribute that gained to military power. But what did He? He chose only what was poor and humble, so that it would be seen that Divinity had changed the world. And so He chose a poor woman as His Mother, a poorer fatherland. He had no money and this crib makes it plain to you.” (Theodoretus, Sermon before the Council of Ephesus)

And true to their reputation of wisdom, the magi recognized what lay hidden beneath such poverty. They were not disheartened by what they saw. After all, they were not seeking for an earthly king. “Because they seek a heavenly king, though they saw in him nothing regal; yet satisfied by the testimony of a single star, their eyes were glad as they looked upon a poor little Child; for the Spirit within them showed that He was a Being of Awe. Hence: falling down they adored Him. They see man, but adore God.” (St. John Chrysostom, ex Op Imp.)

Recognizing the hidden greatness of this little Child, they offer him gifts: gold that symbolizes wisdom (There is desirable treasure in the mouth of the just – Prov. xxi, 20); frankincense which symbolizes the power of prayer (Let my prayer rise as incense in thy sight – Ps. cxl, 2); and myrrh which typifies the mortification of the flesh. These gifts express their homage and we can offer the same gifts as well: To the new born King we offer gold, if in His sight we shine in the light of wisdom; we offer incense when by the fervor of our prayer we offer up that which is agreeable to him; we offer myrrh when by abstinence we mortify the vices of our flesh (Gregory the Great, Homily 10).

When the shepherds saw the infant, they understood how God became so close to them as he shared in their poverty. When the magi saw the infant, they understood how far they have been from the place where God wanted to be found – in a manger. They were so rich but He, so poor. And so they bend low – for this is the only way by which they could recover the poverty that should have been theirs. And they had to recover this poverty if they wanted to be blessed. For Christ would later proclaim, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Acquiring such poverty of spirit, now they can truly kneel before this infant in whom is found the fullness of the Divinity, whose Kingdom will be without end, and in whose stripes, we will be healed.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats ! you got a nice blog, I hope you have time to visit my world ,I invited a few selected people to visit my world and you are one of them,,once again
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