Reflections for Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Epiphany of the Lord
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)
View NAB Reading at USCCB.org

Giving our Hearts to the Lord

They opened their treasures and offered him gifts. (Matthew 2:11)

What’s the best gift you have received this Christmas? How about the best gift you have given? Most likely, it wasn’t this year’s must-have item, which everyone lined up to buy. Rather, it was one you chose specifically for that person, something that reflected his or her personality perfectly.

In many cultures, Christmas gifts are given not on December 25 but on the feast of the Epiphany. The tradition is meant to honor the Magi, who gave the infant Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts had symbolic value, but they were probably quite helpful as well during the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.

Thinking about gift giving at Epiphany can help us shift the focus a bit. Just as the Magi gave Jesus presents, we too have the opportunity to offer the Lord some gifts of our own. Of course, now that he has ascended to heaven and is no longer in need of anything, we face a quandary: what gift can I possibly offer the Creator and Lord of the universe?

The familiar verse from the poet Christina Rossetti has it right: What can I give him, poor as I am? Give him my heart.

There are gifts we treasure not so much because they are appropriate for us as recipients but because the giver has put so much love into them. Think of the toddler offering his mother a dandelion, the older child who has carved his initials into a wooden paperweight, or the author who autographs the first copy of his book to present to his mentor. In the same way, God is delighted when we offer him what no one else can give: ourselves.

No one can praise God in quite the same way as you. No one can follow him down the exact same path. No one but you can love the same set of people. This is how we give Jesus a gift that fills him with delight.

Lord Jesus, I give you my heart, the heart you created to love you.”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. The first reading should fill us with hope as we contemplate what God has accomplished in the coming of Jesus. Through his coming: “light has come,” “the glory of the Lord shines upon you,” “your sons (and daughters) come from afar,” and “you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow” (Isaiah 60:1,4,5). In what ways does your faith in Jesus fill you with hope? What are some areas of your life that need an increase in faith and hope? What are some steps you can take in 2014 to increase your faith and hope in those areas?
  2. The Responsorial Psalm speaks of a king endowed by God to “govern your people with justice,” “rescue the poor when he cries out,” “have pity for the lowly and the poor,” and “the lives of the poor he shall save” (Psalm 72: 2,12,13). In what ways has Jesus fulfilled these words? In 2014, what are some new steps you can take to share in this work of Jesus?
  3. In the second reading, we hear the wonderful revelation that the Gentiles are now coheirs with the Jewish people in all the promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ. How can we as Christians be a better witness of Christ’s love to our Jewish brothers and sisters? Why not spend a few minutes now to pray for Jewish people whom you know, and for all the Jewish people, that they may one day come to know Jesus as their Messiah.
  4. In the Gospel, we are told that when the magi inquired of the whereabouts of the “newborn king of the Jews,” King Herod was “greatly troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2: 2,3). Why do you think King Herod was so troubled by this news? The magi, on the other hand, were overjoyed when they found Jesus, and “did him homage” (2:11). Why do you think the magi’s reaction was so different than Herod’s? What is your reaction when you reflect on these events?
  5. The meditation describes the tradition of gift giving at Christmas and on the feast of the Epiphany: “to honor the Magi, who gave the infant Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” This question is then posed: “what gift can I possibly offer the Creator and Lord of the universe?” The poet Christina Rossetti gives us an excellent answer: “What can I give him, poor as I am? Give him my heart.” What does giving your heart to Jesus mean to you?
  6. Take some time now to pray for the grace to give your life (your heart) more deeply to the Lord in 2014. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.