Epiphany: A Surprising and Precious Gift

Epiphany: A Surprising and Precious Gift

In the gift of one of the three wise men from the East there is a reference to Jesus’ death. Is he spoiling the joy? No, says Marga Haas. This sage does not hide the shadow side of life. That precisely  icomforting. Recognizing someone’s suffering is a precious gift.  Mt 2: 11.


After the shepherds of the fields, the wise men from the East come to visit the child in the manger. They do not come empty-handed. They take gold, incense and myrrh. Rare goods, products from far away, arduously harvested or mined. Precious gifts. But not only financially.

One of the sages takes myrrh. Resin of a shrub in South Arabia. It is used to embalm bodies. Throughout the New Testament this specific type of myrrh is mentioned in only one place. When Jesus had died, Nicodemus came to the grave with a mixture of aloe and this myrrh to embalm Jesus’ body. So this is a gift that points to the death of this Christmas child.

A strange maternity gift, therefore. But does it spoil the atmosphere in the barn? Is the young mother toppled from her pink cloud? Is there a permanent blemish on the maternity period of this first-born? No. At least, in my experience there is not. In one way or another, it is even comforting that this sage, this seer, knows what is coming and does not act if it is not there, does not put his head in the sand. No, he confirms it. As if he were giving a speech with that gift. “Your life will not be a bed of roses. Your life will have its share of darkness and pain. Your life will also bring you loneliness and abandonment. I know that and I will not hide it from you. It belongs to you and it belongs to your life. But that does not stop me from welcoming you to this world and bringing a gift for you. Because it’s good that you’re here.”

Our reaction to the suffering of another is often to want to do all kinds of things. We want to comfort, suggest solutions, console. The unspoken message is: “I cannot bear to see your suffering. So I look in a different direction.” And with that, we increase the suffering, because we leave the other person standing in the cold, alone. This sage from the East can be an example to us. What he says is, in short: “I see your pain.” That – and no more. And perhaps these words are more precious than any gift.

Source: Blog by Marga Haas  www.margahaas.nl

Leave a Reply

Close Menu