We have the three traditional figures in our Crib and they are all wearing crowns, although Matthew in his gospel refers to them as magi and not kings. They each have gifts to lay before the infant child.
There are various suggestions about the symbolism of these gifts. Myrrh is an aromatic and resinous spice. It is used as an expressive perfume and is an ingredient in anointing a dead body. Jesus was anointed with myrrh. Incense was a mixture of gum and refine. It has always been connected with worship. Some say it represents zeal with which the faithful could be consumed. It also represents our prayer ascending to God. Gold in the time of Jesus was used for ornamentation. The Temple was richly decorated with gold. It was a precious metal but not used in coinage. These three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions, that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.
As I kneel before the crib today and as I reflect on the visit of these men from the East, I ask myself, “ what gift, or gifts will I give to Christ?”
Surely I will give what is most precious to me, my life, my very self.
This can be summed up in the prayer of Charles de Foucauld:
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.