Sunday, January 5, 2020
Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the Savior in Jerusalem?
They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the noted prophecy of Balaam, “A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a scepter shall spring up from Israel” (Num. xxiv. IT), which was the more significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled in astronomy. But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, as St. Leo says, “The star shone also in their hearts a beautiful example for us to follow, without delay, the inspirations of divine grace, and to do the will of God without fear of men”.
What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Savior?
In offering gold, the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King; in frankincense, as God; in myrrh, as suffering Man.
How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts?
We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will; also, by giving alms in His name to the poor. We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven; and myrrh, by preserving purity of body and soul.
The Twelfth Night
But what exactly are the Twelve Days of Christmas? They are the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany that constitute an unbroken period of joy and celebration. Epiphany is considered the twelfth day of Christmas (in fact it is sometimes called "Twelfth Day") while the Eve of Epiphany is called "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night," takes its name from the Vigil because during this period festivals (such as the Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass) used to be held in which everything was turned upside-down -- a little like the reversed identities of the characters in the play. These "preposterous" observances, incidentally, were a joyful mimicry of the inversion of almighty God becoming a lowly man, of the King appearing as a humble infant.
The twelve nights of Christmas were primarily a time of rest from unnecessary labor and joyful prayer. On each of these nights the Christmas tree lights and the Christmas candle would be lit, while the family would gather around the manger to recite prayers and sing carols and hymns. Similar services are held in some churches during these nights as well.