The wise men's unique gifts have lost their meaning to many today. What are they all about?
In the Christmas story we see the integrity of Joseph, the innocence of Mary, the responsiveness of the shepherds, and the perseverance of the wise men. We hear the words of the angels to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Personally we may be thinking, “When will I have the integrity, willingness, perseverance, responsiveness and peace described here?” The answer is, when we take aim and set foot on the journey – the most important journey of our existence, our spiritual journey. The Word of God is all about journeys – and ultimately it teacches us about our inner journey from selp-centeredness and negative attitudes to possessing positive qualities from the Lord.
One specific journey in the Word is the wise men’s journey to visit the infant Messiah. A common question we may have about this journey is, “Why did they bring such unusual gifts? What use did these gifts have to the Lord as a baby?”
The wise men presented the Lord with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for a reason. Symbolically, these treasures picture what we must offer to the Lord in order to attain spiritual life. The meanings of these gifts are described in the teachings for the New Church.
Gold symbolizes love
Gold symbolizes love, or the commitment in our hearts to love the Lord. Loving the Lord means to love others and to approach them with kindness, compassion, hope for their happiness, and a desire to contribute to that happiness.
Frankincense symbolizes devoting our thoughts to the Lord
Frankincense symbolizes devoting our thoughts to the Lord, only entertaining thoughts that would be in sync with the attitudes pictured by our gold offering.
Myrrh symbolizes doing what the Word teaches
The final gift, myrrh, symbolizes doing what the Word teaches. it is about our conduct – the way we live. Gifts of only gold and frankincense are not enough. Good intentions and good feelings are nothing if we do not attempt to manifest them in our outward life.
Each of us is on a journey. It is important to know that the Lord is with us on our journey, working to inspire us and lead us to lasting happiness. The more we can offer Him our love, out thoughts, and our life, the better He can lead us to fulfillment and joy.