Catholic Family News
A Monthly Journal Preserving our Catholic Faith and Heritage
Blessed Abbot Marmion on
The Gifts of the Three Kings

The attitude of adoration in the Magi translates in eloquent language the depth of their faith; the presents that they offer are likewise full of signification. The Fathers of the Church have laid stress on the symbolism of the gifts brought to Christ by the Magi. In ending this conference, let us stay to consider the depth of this symbolism: it will be a joy for our souls and food for our devotion.

As you know, the Gospel tells us that having found the Child "with Mary His Mother, "opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh." It is evident that, in the intentions of the Magi, these gifts were meant to express the feelings of their hearts as well as to honor Him to Whom they were brought.

In examining the nature of these gifts which they had prepared before their departure, we see that divine illumination had already manifested to the Magi something of the eminent ' dignity of Him Whom they desired to contemplate and adore. The nature of these gifts likewise indicates the nature of the duties that the Magi would fulfill towards the King of the Jews. The symbolism of the gifts therefore refers both to the One to Whom they are offered and to those who present them.

Gold, the most precious of metals, is the symbol of royalty; it denotes, on the other hand, the love and fidelity that everyone owes to his prince.

Incense is universally acknowledged to be the symbol of divine worship; it is offered to God alone. In preparing this gift, the Magi showed that" they had in view to proclaim the Divinity of Him Whose Birth was announced by the star, and to confess this Divinity by the supreme adoration that can be rendered to God alone.

Finally, they had been inspired to bring Him
myrrh. What would they show by this myrrh which is used to dress wounds, and to embalm the dead?, This gift signified that Christ was Man, a Man capable of suffering, Who would one day die. The myrrh also symbolized the spirit of penance and immolation which ought to characterize the life of the disciples of the Crucified.

- from Christ in His Mysteries