We are all familiar with this account from sacred Scripture:
“prostrated themselves” and “did him homage.” Then they “opened their treasures” and offered him “gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Two thousand years after this pilgrimage of the Magi, what can we learn from these Wise Men and apply in our own lives as Catholic disciples this Christmas season?
First: to seek out Christ. We are blessed that we can travel far shorter distances to encounter him. Instead of a star in the heavens, we are guided by the sanctuary candle that tells us our humble and vulnerable Lord is with us.
Second: to be joyful, humble and filled with awe at the wonder that is the Incarnation -- that our God is so loving that he would take on our human nature so as to then sacrifice himself for our benefit. The awe that the Magi experienced is likely similar to that of many of us when we received first Communion as a child. While it can be easy to take for granted the availability of the Eucharist with nearly 300 churches in our archdiocese offering Mass daily, I encourage all of us to take time this Christmas, put ourselves in the shoes of the Magi and pray that God helps us experience the loving presence of Christ today with the power that the Magi experienced on the day Christ was born.
Third: to “open our treasures” and offer the Lord our gifts. Our gifts need not be gold, incense or perfume. Christ calls us to simply take stock of our blessings, recognize that they ultimately come from him, cherish them, strive to develop them so that we can return them to him with increase on a continual basis. We are called to make individual and particular gifts of our time and talent to help others know his saving message, make the world one that is more loving, and serve the common good.
Christmas is a time when people look forward to sharing their gifts with others. Many Catholics give gifts to the Infant Savior, like the Magi did, by making Christmas or year-end contributions to the Church or other charities. This Christmas, I invite you to prayerfully consider supporting the many good works of the Church.
The Church, as Christ’s body, has many needs as we strive to carry out the saving mission we have inherited from that Divine Infant just over 2,000 years ago; and there are many opportunities to further his work this Christmas. Many of our parishes, Catholic Charitable agencies and Catholic Schools have appeals as does CatholicTV, which serves so many that are physically unable to make it to one of our parishes for Mass. There is also the very important Christmas Collection in our parishes that provides much of the funding for the care of our retired clergy members who have given their lives in service to Christ and all of us.
Also this Christmas there is a special and new initiative, the Cardinal’s Christmas Campaign. This campaign was designed to allow Catholics to support particular initiatives in which the cardinal would like to expand. Support to this month’s Cardinal’s Christmas Campaign will be directed to bicentennial initiatives intended to renew our Church, to create new ways of expressing our faith to young Catholics, and to welcome back Catholics who have stepped away from regular participation in our parish communities.
For more information on the Cardinal’s Christmas Campaign and other needs and appeals from Catholic organizations, please call The Catholic Foundation at 617-779-3700.
I thank you for all you’ve done to further the work of the Church this year. I ask God’s blessings on you and all your loved ones this Advent and upcoming Christmas season.
Scot Landry is Secretary for Advancement & Chief Development Officer of the Archdiocese of Boston.