Christmas Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh


The Adoration of the Magi, a Design for Bas Relief.

In the Christmas story, the wise men bring gifts to the Lord: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The gold is listed first, because it is the inmost - signifying good, e.g. the good that we do when we love the Lord and the neighbor.

The frankincense is next. It signifies rational truth, which is the set of true ideas that we know, not about external things like cars or cooking, but about what is really good, and what is really true.

These rational truths are built on earlier knowledges that we learn, before we have really made them our own. Those early knowledges about spiritual things - often learned in childhood - are represented by the myrrh.

In a way, these gifts are really a reciprocation. We can't actually give them to the Lord until the Lord has given them to us. We necessarily start out by learning and doing the Lord's law (myrrh). The Lord can then call up those memories to become rational truths (frankincense). Then, over time, and with effort, those truths can be transformed into good (gold). The wise men from the East had gone through this process of learning and becoming vessels that could receive truths and goods. They were able to perceive the Lord's birth, and find him, and bring gifts to him.


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