Read: Matthew 2:1-12
This year, we have the privilege of celebrating Epiphany on Sunday. We will, like the magi, make our way to the “cradle of Jesus” (the sanctuary) and offer Christ our gifts, the ultimate gift being ourselves (Romans 12:1).
We do this because we perceived something more going on in Jesus than the birth of a baby. We journey to offer Christ our lives, because we perceive him to be God’s “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” sent into the world to reign over us with inexpressible love.
Around 400 a.d., Chromatius (Bishop of Aquileila) wrote about this kind of perception in the lives of the wise men: “There in his very cradle they venerated him with offerings of gifts. Jesus was merely a whimpering infant. They perceived one thing with the eyes of their bodies, but another thing with the eyes of the mind. The lowliness of the body he assumed was discerned, but the glory of his divinity is now made manifest.”
Christmas would peter out very quickly (and unfortunately, it does for some) if we only saw “the baby Jesus” in our holiday celebrations. But we see more—we see more through perception, through the eyes of our souls. We see the One whom Chromatius went on to describe as “the Son of God, who is God of the universe.”
Epiphany comes each year to remind us that God has come to us in the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh. People near (like Joseph and Mary) and people far away (like the magi) are invited to come to him. No one is kept away. And as we do so with perception (i.e. eyes of faith), we find that our most precious gifts (our gold, frankincense, and myrrh) belong at his feet.