Both Gift-Bearers + Gift-Receivers

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

The Epiphany of the Lord | January 6, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on all the readings. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So I have a confession to make.

I am a master re-gifter.  If there is a gift I’m not too excited about, I will find it a new home.

New scarf?  That homeless man looks cold.

Candles?  What a lovely housewarming gift.

A rosary?  Goldmine. There is always somebody in the hospital who could use a little extra support.

Seriously, my family spends half of their holidays trying to outsmart my regifting skills.

In fact, a few years ago.  My brother actually wrote a contract and forced me to sign it stating that I would not regift the book he gave me for at least a year.

I followed the contract and then promptly sold it to 2nd and Charles the week the contract expired.

But a few years ago, I received a gift that truly stymied my re-gifting prowess.  It was for my ordination. And it was three glass whales.

Seriously, three heavy paperweights whales, one of which had a little figure of Jonah etched inside it.

I still have no idea what the connection was.  I have never expressed an interest in whales. Jesus didn’t meet a whale.  And there is absolutely no link between whales and ordination that I know of.

But I knew one thing.

I could never re-gift these.  For my entire family still asks me about the whales and checks to make sure they are safely displayed on my window sill.

And I have to laugh, because I couldn’t help but think of those whales as I reflected on the readings for this weekend.

Because I have a hunch that Mary and Joseph also received a gift that they didn’t particularly want and didn’t know what to do with.

Yup, myrrh.

Let’s be real.  The gold. Super helpful. Frankincense. Smells good. Probably covers up the smell of the stables.

But myrrh.  Who wants myrrh?  Umm thanks for the spices I use to bury bodies.  Seems like such an appropriate gift to give new parents.

And yet, these wise men journeyed leagues to present this gift.  To be with the family when they received it.

And in their companionship, I believe that we all are offered a lesson on our own journey.

Because let’s be real, we all receive gifts that we don’t want and cannot get rid of.

The rejection letter from our dream school.

The cancer diagnosis.

The text saying I think we need a break.

The phone call informing us that the position has already been filled.

The paperwork after the divorce is finalized.

The bills for the emergency car repairs that you weren’t planning for.

Every day, our life is a series of gold bars, fragrant wafts of frankincense, and drops of myrrh.

And like the holy family, we are only able to receive them all when we realize that we are not alone.  That surrounding us are wise women and men, accompanying us, teaching us, challenging us, loving us.

Look around you.  See your spouses, your kids, your parents, your friends, your family of faith.  Think of those who have always been by your side.

They are not perfect.  And they are not always who we expected.  But they are here. They have shown up.

And in each of these magi recognize that this is what it means to be Church my friends.

To be both gift bearers and gift receivers.

To be wise women and wise men.  Bringing light into the darkness.  Leading others to Encounter Emmanuel, God with us.

Until all find their way to the stable.  Until all are reminded of the great truth at the heart of our faith.  Which is that we are all God’s beloved children. And in each of us, God is overjoyed.

Merry Christmas my dear friends.  May God be Praised.

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