Liturgy Matters – Jesus, the only gift that keeps on giving!

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Home > Media > News > Liturgy Matters – Jesus, the only gift that keeps on giving!
Liturgy Matters – Jesus, the only gift that keeps on giving!

There is a familiar phrase which has been the ambit claim of advertising agencies for countless decades - “the gift that keeps on giving.” First used to sell the phonograph back in 1925, today it is commonly employed around secular holidays and to promote the virtue of monthly magazine subscriptions. The expression is intended to invoke that feeling you get when you receive a gift, premised on the idea that a gift that invokes that feeling over and over must be a superior kind of gift.

The Christmas story introduces us to gifts through Magi or Wise Men. Matthew records the Magi worshipped the Christ child and offered him from each of their treasures a gift. (Mt 2:11) The Excerpta et Collectanea, a work attributed to St. Bede (d. 735), describes the Magi and their gifts as follows:

“The Magi were the ones who gave gifts to the Lord. The first is said to have been Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard... who offered gold to the Lord as to a king. The second, Caspar by name, young and beardless and ruddy complexioned... honored Him as God by his gift of incense, an oblation worthy of divinity. The third, black-skinned and heavily bearded, named Balthasar ... by his gift of myrrh testified to the Son of Man who was to die.”

G.K. Chesterton observed that this might “sound like Eastern flattery, were it not for the third.” Certainly, the Magi are among the first witnesses of Christ. Returning home they are said to have divested themselves of title and property, and dedicated their lives to spreading the Gospel. Ordained priests by the apostle St. Thomas, it was recorded that:

“Having undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the three wise men met at Sewa in AD 54 to celebrate the feast of Christmas. Thereupon, after the celebration of Mass, they died: St. Melchior on Jan 1, aged 116; St. Balthasar on Jan 6, aged 112; and St Caspar on Jan 11, aged 109.”

This Christmas morning, nestled again among the presents left by Father Christmas under our family tree, and beneath the Magi’s star, will be the near to life size statue of the baby Jesus. Memory is at the heart of the Church’s liturgical life and as an aide-mémoire the statue is cause for much excitement. The children have come to anticipate its appearance on Christmas morning as much as they have their presents.

Bring Jesus into your Christmas. He is the reason for the season, and his presence in our lives is undoubtedly the only gift that truly keeps on giving. Wishing you the Lord’s Joy and Peace this Christmas!