|Murillo's Adoration of the Magi|
Today we celebrate the Epiphany or the manifestation/showing forth of the child Jesus as the messiah to the magi. In the Gospel according to Matthew are all the ingredients of a great story: exotic visitors, a wicked king, court intrigue, a mysterious star, precious gifts, a new child. The magi give homage to this child with highly symbolic gifts about the identity of Jesus.
Gold can symbolize kingship or divinity, the things of God; and the coin of this child’s heavenly realm are the virtues of self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty,respect and faith in God.
Frankincense with its wonderful fragrance and medicinal magic can symbolize healing, and this child came to heal our wounds and bridge the chasms that separate us from God and one another.
Myrrh or ointment can symbolize a burial embalmment, and this child through his dying/rising re-established our relationship with God and made us co-heirs to God’s promise of eternal life.
Now who is this child to whom the magi give their homage? This newborn messiah, soon to grow into the adult messiah, completely human and completely divine, is the exemplar of what it means to be an authentic human being.
That is why we might ask ourselves during our daily routine: what would Jesus do?
With Jesus—his life, ministry, dying and rising-- as our model, God invites us to live an authentic life so that, from an infinite number of possibilities, we can become the best version of ourselves.
We are called to be in relationship with God by living holy lives, without exception, regardless of our age, color, socioeconomic background, career or calling in life. Holiness is allowing God to enter into every part of our lives so that we can become the best version of ourselves through who we are and everything we do. It's trying to be true to our inner best selves.
Yes, with Jesus as our model, and trying to become the best version of ourselves, the new year is indeed a time to change ourselves, to re-create ourselves, to re-energize our life with God and with one another.
How? I like this simple suggestion: each day, do a bit more than we think we can.
Each day, love a little bit more than we think we can; forgive a little bit more than we think we can; reach out to someone who is hurting a little bit more; sacrifice for others a little bit more; and encourage one another, especially our families, a little bit more than we think we can.
Now that’s a New Year’s resolution!
And you know what? God will give us strength to do more than we think we can. And if we do a little bit more than we think we can each day, then when our earthly life ends, we will approach God a little bit closer than we thought we could.