by M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Gifts of the Magi
M. Jolaine Szymkowiak, MA-EM

The magi came bearing gifts for the Christ Child. What an imposing sight it must have been! Not just three regal personages from different countries, as is always pictured, but imagine all the people in their entourage. These magi, acted as their kings' advisor and thus occupied a high position in their respective countries. They would have, in all probability, traveled with men who would take care of the livestock, put up tents and make camp each night, prepare their food, be their personal pages and/or guards.

We have them pictured arriving on camels; they could also have been riding exquisite Arabian horses. There may have been more than the three magi we find depicted in stories and song; there could have been a group, a great entourage. It is easy to imagine three magi each bearing one of the three gifts. No matter how they traveled or how many they were, they brought expensive, gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold, gifts befitting the king they hoped to find. The worth of these gifts was astounding. The value of these gifts has not diminished down through the ages. They are as valuable today as they were then. Their gifts have a sacred worth as well, now as then. For instance, in Persia, the magi alone committed the performance of sacred rites. They knew what was befitting and holy for a new king, a special king: the gifts they gave honored and praised the Christ Child.

I have often wondered what may have happened to those gifts: how were they used, to what end? The gold, was it used to facilitate travel on the flight into Egypt, the subsequent stay, the return to Israel and on to Nazareth? What became of the frankincense, the myrrh? Were they used in the burial spices for Joseph at his death, or at the death of another friend or family member, for a rabbi?

The magi, considered capable of understanding past events, or foretelling what lay in the future, were well known to the Jews ...

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