I hope you will agree that the best Christmas present anyone can receive is the gift of Jesus. He comes to us as a gift from God the Father. But, as we see in today's Gospel story, He is welcomed by some and rejected by others. And while His own people are divided, what is truly remarkable, is how warmly He is accepted by the Gentiles. The events surrounding the birth of Jesus, foretell his future destiny. When this happens, it is a sign that God, who holds past present and future as one, is at work. Those who understand are left in no doubt that God is the author of the life of Jesus.
The rejection of the child Messiah is totally evil. Herod’s murderous intentions are hidden beneath a cloak of piety and lies. Herod tries his best but his smoke and mirrors are no match for God. His behaviour reveals him as a hypocrite, one whose words don't square with their
thoughts, whose outside and inside are not aligned. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, this is the enduring temptation for religious and political persons. To say pious and respectable things while holding treachery in their hearts.
In contrast, the Wise Ones rejoice at His coming! They are more than happy when heaven, signed by a star, and earth, signed by the infant Jesus, greet each other. They are overwhelmed with joy, and their gifts become an expression of their adoring hearts.
Many years ago, GK Chesterton had a little spat with Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientism. She told the press that she did not give presents at Christmas but instead she meditated on purity and truth till her friends were the better for it. Chesterton accused her of being unchristian, arguing that the whole point of Jesus Incarnation was to embody good will. If the three Wise Ones had taken Mary Eddy’s stance, there would be no Christian art or civilisation. Thankfully they didn't and the gifts they bring are perfect, not because they can be weighed, priced and valued but because they take two interiors, the heart of the Christ child and their own hearts, and make them one.
Gift giving makes the invisible become visible. It is one of the ways that the hidden heart makes itself known. Gifts symbolise a flow of love. It does not matter, for those who love, if the gift is expensive or not. The little drummer boy only has one song, Charlie Brown’s broken Christmas tree is the one that brings the kids together. What matters is that “perfect gifts” are perfect when they carry one person into the heart of another.
Jim and Della are in love but they are poor. Each has a proud possession. Della has beautiful hair and Jim has a fob watch. At Christmas, Della cuts her hair and sells it to buy Jim a platinum chain for his watch. On Christmas morning when she gives it to him, Jim reveals that he has sold his watch to buy Della a set of pure tortoiseshell combs for her hair. They roar with laughter because even though they know that their gifts are now useless, they know that they have carried them both into each other. These are gifts that strengthen their relationship, assuring them that they know and are known, love and loved. O. Henry, who penned this story in 'Gifts of the Magi' stated, " Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest."