Did you receive a lot of gifts? This was the question posed to me by one friend during a simple post-Christmas reunion.  Indeed, this is a season for presents, mostly coming in colorful, glittering, ribbon tied boxes or paper bags.  I delight in giving gifts to my own friends and parishioners and I prepare them well and early.
As we celebrate Epiphany (famously known as Three Kings in our country), gift-giving is still the focus of the feast. The Magi have always been portrayed as bringer of gifts for the King of Kings. The wise men came from faraway lands in search for the promised Savior of the world.  And they went on their journey prepared to meet the Christ Child with their fitting offerings.
But we must not overlook the fact that the real gift, the greatest one of all, is not in the hands of these wise men from the East.  The real gift came from the outstretched hands of God, now seen in the open arms of his Son in the manger.  More than the Magi, it was God who was offering the best gift of all – salvation to the whole world in Jesus Christ.
In the person of Jesus, the Father unwrapped his present before all men and women, represented by these foreign visitors. They hailed from beyond Israel and were trained in different traditions and cultures.  No doubt, they practiced another religion.  But they complete the joy of the Incarnation by being called to share in the gladness of Israel as the favored visitors of Christ.  The Magi, kneeling before the Christ Child, remind us that when salvation came, God intended it to be universal, global, open and available to all who would come to accept it.
Gazing at the Nativity scene, we need not envy Mary and Joseph or the shepherds or the Magi – they who have been so close to the Lord at his birth. For at his coming, the Lord is also very close to us.  While we cannot afford costly gifts, Jesus is himself the gift who is given to us today. He offers divine love within a living relationship that can transform our lives and fashion us into God’s sons and daughters.  We are today’s Magi, intended receivers of salvation in Christ.
In Epiphany, we behold the open heart of God to people of other races and cultures.  Is my heart open to people around me? In Epiphany, we feel the great love of God for humanity.  Am I capable of loving and forgiving?  In Epiphany, we encounter a God who unites people. Am I ready to become an instrument of peace, a witness of reconciliation?
Today we thank God for the gift of love that is offered to all.  We also ask for a heart that is magnanimous and generous, offered to all without favoritism or discrimination.