The Epiphany of the Lord
In the conclusion to the gospel of this Epiphany feast, we heard: “After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Why would anyone choose to give myrrh to a baby? This is very likely what was going through Mary’s mind as the magi presented their gifts to her son. Gold? Gold is always useful, especially if your economic situation was as dire as that of the Holy Family. Frankincense, used in worship, would add a sweet aroma to the air around the house. But myrrh? Myrrh was a spice used to embalm a dead body. Hardly a gift to present to a newborn child!
From the viewpoint of two thousand years of faith, it is obvious to us that the gifts of the magi were more symbolic than practical. If this newborn child was truly human (and everything we celebrate in this Christmas season attests that he was), then the wise men knew that
his life would be a mixture of the three things that their gifts represented: the gold of achievement and success, the frankincense of peace and joy, and the myrrh of suffering and death.
Every human life is a mixture of these three things: success, joy, and pain.
By presenting these gifts to the Christ child, the wise men were testifying
that he was truly human.
They were underscoring the fact that God truly became one of us.
But there is more still. Through the incarnation,
Christ not only took on our humanity, but he also redefined what it is to be human.
Through his life, death, and resurrection, we now have the opportunity of living these aspects of our humanity in a different and deeper way.
As his disciples, we can approach our achievements with humility. We can approach our joys with thanksgiving. We can approach our suffering with strength.
But, like Mary, it is the myrrh that mystifies us. With God’s grace, we can usually learn to be humble in our achievements and thankful in our blessings.
But trying to be strong in our pain and suffering is the real challenge of life.
When an evil which we cannot avoid or change enters our life, when we have to deal with the death of someone that we love, with the end of a relationship, with illness, with the betrayal of a friend, with addiction, with a terrible mistake that has hurt others, it is possible to respond in three ways. We can respond
denial, despair, or acceptance.
Those who choose to respond to pain with denial try to protect themselves from the suffering by rejecting what is real. Although this might soften the pain, it does so at the cost of separating us from the real joys and the real relationships in our lives. Those who choose the way of denial will in time have to live without love because denial suffocates what is vital and valuable in living.
Those who take the approach of despair go in a different direction. They wrap themselves in self-pity and give up on life. They emphasize only what is wrong in their life. They ignore every possibility of hope. They distance themselves from those who love them, isolating their lives in their suffering.
But there is a way of dealing with pain that is neither denial nor despair. It is possible to accept the things that we cannot change. When we take the approach of acceptance, we emphasize the good things that are still present in our lives, the people who still love them, and try to move forward attentive to every sign of hope.
It is here where Christ is most important because with Christ there is always hope. What we have learned from this newborn child is that
our God will never abandon us, that God who moved his own Son beyond the cross will move us beyond our suffering to new life.
For those who have faith in Christ, it is possible to accept the things we cannot change with strength. It is possible to find hope even in the shadow of death.
So who would give myrrh to a baby? A wise man. A wise man who understood that this child would give new depth to our humanity. In this child, we can be humble in our achievements, thankful in our blessings, and strong in our pain. As life presents us with these three aspects of our humanity, we are called to live them out as followers of Christ.
En la conclusión del evangelio de esta fiesta de la Epifanía, escuchamos: “Después de su audiencia con el rey, partieron. Y he aquí, la estrella que habían visto al salir los precedió, hasta que llegó y se detuvo sobre el lugar donde estaba el niño. Se regocijaron al ver la estrella y al entrar en la casa vieron al niño con María, su madre, Se postraron y le rindieron homenaje. Entonces abrieron sus tesoros y le ofrecieron regalos de oro, incienso y mirra ”¿Por qué alguien elegiría darle mirra a un bebé?
Esto es muy probablemente lo que pasaba por la mente de Mary cuando los magos le presentaban sus regalos a su hijo. ¿Oro? El oro siempre es útil, especialmente si su situación económica era tan grave como la de la Sagrada Familia. El incienso, que se usa en la adoración, podría agregar aroma al aire alrededor de la casa. ¿Pero mirra? La mirra era una especia que se usaba para embalsamar un cadáver. Difícilmente un regalo para presentar a un niño recién nacido.
Desde el punto de vista de dos mil años, es obvio para nosotros que los dones de los magos eran más simbólicos que prácticos. Si este niño recién nacido era verdaderamente humano (y todo lo que celebramos en estas temporadas navideñas atestigua que lo era), entonces los sabios sabían que su vida sería una mezcla de las tres cosas que representaban sus dones: el oro del logro y el éxito, el incienso de la paz y la alegría, y la mirra del sufrimiento y la muerte. Cada vida humana es una mezcla de estas tres cosas: éxito, alegría y dolor.
A través de la encarnación, Cristo no solo asumió nuestra humanidad, sino que también redefinió lo que es ser humano. A través de su vida, muerte y resurrección, ahora tenemos la oportunidad de vivir estos aspectos de nuestra humanidad de una manera diferente y más profunda. Como discípulos suyos, podemos abordar nuestros logros con humildad. Podemos acercarnos a nuestras alegrías con acción de gracias. Podemos abordar nuestro sufrimiento con fuerza.
St. Joseph's Church Downtown is open with the usual schedule of weekday and weekend Masses, sacraments, and ministry. Because of increased coronavirus cases locally, social distancing, hand-sanitizing, and the use of a face mask are observed during church services, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Receiving Holy Communion
In keeping with the Covid-19 protocols of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Holy Communion is to be received reverently in the hand at this time. Unless you are members of the same household, you are asked to keep social distancing of six feet between yourself and others. Please sanitize your hands before coming forward to receive the Body of Christ.
Virtual classes are now being conducted on Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:30. If you have not registered your child(ren) and wish to do so, please call Beatrice Bailey at 210-227-0126, ext. 210. No classes, of course, on Thanksgiving!
A Season of Love, Caring, and Joy!
The parishioners and friends of St. Joseph's came through magnificently in this year's Respect Life Month Diaper Drive (October), the Thanksgiving Food Drive for baskets (November), and the Christmas Toy Drive for Children (December)
. We thank all who contributed gifts of diapers and baby supplies, holiday foods, toys to brighten the lives of children as celebrate God's greatest gift to us, his Son.
Our appreciation to Lizette Eckman and Grand Lady Antoinette Franklin and Vice Grand Lady Grace Banks for organizing these efforts.
And to LTC. Ricardo Arispe, our weekday sexton, for decorating the church interior so beautifully with festive wreaths and angels, illuminated trees, and our magnificent Nativity scene. Also to Gloria and Todd Keller and Fr. Joseph Thai Tran, SSS, for selecting and arranging the red and white poinsettias in the sanctuary. The church is stunning!
Videos of Masses
Videos of Sunday and other Masses from St. Joseph's are posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page and on the parish website, thanks to The Strelchun Family and John Francis.
Supporting St. Joseph Church Downtown
Remember that you can support St. Joseph through our parish website (
) or Give Central (
Anthony Schueller SSS
on Sunday, January 3 at 11:41PM