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Epiphany 2012

We love to receive gifts. But we also enjoy giving them away. I plan my gifts by the middle of the year and I still give gifts until Epiphany.

Today is Epiphany, locally referred to by Filipinos as Three Kings. It is said that gift-giving started with the Magi, the wise men we heard from today’s Gospel. Learned men from the East, who studied the movement of the celestial bodies, they were brought to the Christ Child by the guidance of a mysterious star. When finally they encountered the Child, they brought out their celebrated gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – the first recorded Christmas gifts.

The Magi were however acting on impulse to an earlier movement, a prior gesture. They offered their presents only because they felt they have received something even greater. The gifts were an acknowledgement of the person of the Son of God, now revealed to them and through them, to the entire world. The first gift came from God and he was a Person, Jesus the Lord.

The gift of one’s person, of self, signals the presence of someone who cares, the involvement of one who loves, the concern of one who is willing to suffer for the sake of the beloved. Today, the best gift is still the gift of person, the gift of self. Though I have received quite a number of gifts, the best ones I truly cherish are the people who cared to remember. Some did so by text messages or facebook greetings or cards and other ways. But the present was a mere reflection of the friendship and support and love that matter the most.

This Christmas, have we been appreciative of the people in our lives, the people around us, the people who daily give us the gift of their presence and love? If we review the Christmas season about to end anytime now, isn’t it that these people really convey to us, and in a daily basis, the love of God in concrete form, the face of Christ in very visible ways.

During Simbang Gabi, two boys who were always hanging out around the church. They were always hungry. And their clothes needed sewing. They were always attracting attention. Later I learned that just days before Christmas, their mother was operated to remove a huge cyst on her chest. For the first time, the boys, together with a younger sister and an older brother, would spend the time by themselves, as their father was also working as a truck driver even during the holidays. I visited the mother on the afternoon of Christmas. She was crying because she missed her children. Later when she went home, she sent a text message saying how the kids shouted and jumped for joy and ate so much to celebrate their mother’s return. How the kids recognized their mom’s importance in their lives.

Before Christmas ends, let us thank God for the people around us and the people with us. And just maybe, was there someone you failed to appreciate and show love to? There is still time. You can still recognize a gift in someone. Christmas never really ends…