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Epiphany of the Lord
I like preparing Christmas gifts for my friends long before the season.  And I delight in receiving gifts from thoughtful family members and friends.  Some people are afraid to give gifts because they do not want to be bothered by the purchasing and wrapping and sending.  But gifts are part of Christmas as the story of the Magi tell us today (Matthew 2:1-12).
Among the gifts I received this year was a very large package that surprisingly revealed a beautiful painting a friend of mine made just for me.  It fit well on a vacant wall in our rectory where now it hangs.  Then I received the smallest but nevertheless precious gift of a tiny stamp – the commemorative stamp for the canonization of our new Filipino saint, St. Pedro Calungsod.
The amazing thing about a gift is that it is more than just an item. A gift speaks and conveys something that warms the heart. It reveals something from the sender to the receiver.  A gift expresses the love, esteem, joy, good wishes and best intentions one has for a friend.  Even if you do not say anything, the gift says it all for you!
Christmas is the season of gifts because in this season we hear about gifts.  The Magi brought gifts to the Christ Child.  And God gave the world the greatest gift of all – his only Son, specially wrapped in swaddling clothes, the symbol of our humble humanity.
The birth of Jesus is God’s gift to a people covered in darkness and shielded by a thick cloud, as Isaiah (Ch 60) describes.  God desires the liberation of his people and his great design to make them a radiant light for the others. For a long time, all the people knew was slavery and shame.  This time, God transforms Israel’s poverty into the riches that is the envy of her neighbors.
The Letter to the Ephesians explains that the gift of God is a mystery, but not one that is unknown.  Rather it is a mystery that is revealed, unfolded so that people may understand the love of the sender.  God’s love is a mystery slowly unwrapped until it fully manifests in the person of Jesus, his Son.
The Magi in the gospel brought their gifts to Jesus but when it dawned on them that Jesus was the greatest gift of all, their lives were transformed forever.  God now leads them to another route, different from the one their lives took before they encountered the God who is now part of the world’s history.
As we slowly say goodbye to this joyful season, as we carefully tuck away every gift we received, let us beg the Lord to reveal to us the love and concern of the people behind the gifts so that we may truly appreciate them. Most specially, let us humbly ask the Lord that we may understand the significance of his own gift of his Son so that as the personal meaning of Jesus for us is made known, we may carry him in our hearts as we walk the way of freedom and light.
Let us thank the Lord for gifts and for the mystery of love behind each of them.