Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The gifts of the Kings and the blessing of the sons of Israel

I have been asked what is the value of the gifts of the 3 Kings.

Their monetary value is of little significance although we know that they were "costly".

Were they sold or used? We do not know for certain.

In those days, the Jews were allowed, by concession only due to their avarice according to Moses, to "fenerate" (i.e. lend at interest) to non-Jews since the prohibition was, they said, only against fenerating to one's brethren.

Christianity said that all men are brothers and so we may not fenerate to any man.

According to the visions of Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich, recently beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004, the gifts were costly and were taken from the cave at Bethlehem by the family of the Blessed Virgin under the supervision of St Anne, the mother of the Virgin.

They were taken back to Nazareth and kept there until the Holy Family returned from Egypt.

There is a tradition that the Myrrh was carefully preserved against the day of our Lord's entombment when the women disciples recovered it from the Blessed Virgin to anoint the body of Christ.

The real significance of the gifts is that they represent the 3 aspects of our Lord's ministry and the 3 roles of a Christian, in imitation, namely:

(1) Gold - for a king;

(2) Incense - for a priest;

(3) Myrrh - for a holy death, the symbol of the prophetic role.

These are our 3 roles, Kingly, Priestly and Prophetic of which the Prophetic is the greatest since Joseph, the son of Jacob/Israel, received the double portion that would normally go to the eldest son, Reuben, who was disinherited, even though Jacob was the youngest son. See Gen 49 and the blessing by Israel of his sons and the apportionment of their inheritance.

The next 2 sons, after Reuben and Simeon, were Levi and Judah and they fulfilled the priestly and kingly roles respectively.

The sons of Levi, despite being deprived by Jacob of their inheritance because of Levi's savagery against the Sichemites, were to be the clergy of Israel.

The sons of Judah were the royal princes of Israel.

They retained the royal sceptre until the coming of Christ, according to Jacob's prophecy written at Gen 49:10 thus:

"The sceptre shall not be taken from Judah, nor a ruler from his thigh, until He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of the nations."

This is yet another proof that the Messias has come since the sceptre was, indeed, taken from Judah and from the whole of Israel shortly before the birth of Christ when Pompey the Great took Jerusalem, subdued the Jews, profaned the Temple and Holy of Holies and abducted Aristobulus the High Priest.

Thereafter Cassius despoiled the Temple and further subdued the Jews.

At this time the Jews are the Church since the Messias is yet to come. After He comes, He teaches His people the fulfulment of the Law and the Prophets, namely Catholic Christianity which is, for all time, the true religion of God, of His prophets, priests and kings, as taught by His son, Yeshua, the Aramiac word for "Saviour" or "Salvation" which was rendered into Greek as Iesous, and in Latin as Jesus. It is the same name as Joshua.

The name Jesus Christ means "Anointed Saviour" and the word "Messias" or "Messiah" from the Hebrew/Aramaic Mashiach means "the Anointed of the Lord".

Thus the Messias or Messiah and Jesus Christ are one and the same person, namely God, Adonai, Elohim, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity and the Saviour of the Jews, of the Gentiles and of the world and all mankind.

To modern Jews, of course, this is blasphemy but to Christians it is the sacred truth. Nevertheless, although we strongly disagree with the modern Jews on this central point, we should continue to respect them and their traditions to the extent that they are a reminder to us of the ancient traditions upon which the true Church of God is built, that is, the Law and Prophets of the Old Testament and all the great prophecies of the coming of the Messias.

After the death and Resurrection of our Lord, Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed utterly by the Roman Emperor and Caesar Augustus, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known to history as Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian.

Francesco Hayez. Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. 1867.

Israel blessed his youngest son with the double portion that is normally given only to the eldest son. Joseph was the specially chosen, the type of the Prophets and of the blessed, though he was the youngest.

God inspired Israel so to act in order to show that the Prophetic role is the greatest role, greater than the Kingly or the Priestly because it is the role of teacher by example which pleases God the best.

This should provide an antidote to the pride of kings and priests who, through history, constantly challenge each other's superiority when they should both bow low before the exemplars of the greatest of the roles, namely the Prophetic role.

The greatest exemplar of the Prophetic role is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the very greatest of the seed of Adam, of the daughters of Israel and Jerusalem and the Queen of all the Prophets, Priests and Kings.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the greatest of all the daughters of Israel and the Queen of all Prophets

All Christians are called to all 3 roles but especially the Prophetic role.

As Kings (and Queens) we rule in our homes and in any position of authority, paternal or maternal especially, to which we are called.

As Priests we are called to pray and to sacrifice.

As Prophets we are called to witness to the Faith, to make ourselves and others holy by our example and good counsel.

The blessing of Israel upon Joseph is itself highly prophetic (Gen 49:26):

"The blessings of thy father are strengthened with the blessings of his fathers, until the desire of the everlasting hills should come; may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren"

It would take another whole post just to unpack this verse alone!

The successor of the last of the Kings of Judah was, in fact, St Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord. He, too, succeeds to the double blessing of his namesake, Joseph, the son of Israel, and it is his privilege and duty to guard and nurture that "Desire of the everlasting hills" of which Israel speaks, namely the Messias Himself, Jesus Christ. Thus our Lord is, in material historical fact, as well as spiritually, King of Israel, Judah and the Jews.

He is really and truly the "King of the Jews".

These are but some of the many meanings associated with the gifts of the Magi.



Anonymous said...

Nice post..

Tribunus said...

Thank you, Jackie!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much but could you give the name of the artist who painted the annunciation: the Virgin Mary.Thank you very much!