After today, I feel like I understand a little bit what it must have felt like to be one of the three magi who went to visit the Christ child with gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh.
Mind you, this is not a perfect analogy. In fact, the comparison is probably totally invalid, but nonetheless, it made me think.
Over the weekend, some of my residents and I made Christmas cookies. I put a few in a bag to take over to physical plant for a Merry Christmas thought and a thank you for all they’ve done (especially considering the fact that I just work ordered a mouse in our kitchen…). I trekked across campus (probably the furthest to points of campus possible, too bad I was going west to east), and up to the physical plant office. I told the receptionist that my floor had made some cookies, and she lit up and said that was the sweetest thing ever. I told her I didn’t know how many workers there were, and when she told me there were 38, I realized there weren’t nearly enough cookies in the bag for all of them. Bummer. But despite the discrepancy of numbers, she was still so appreciative of the gift. I left feeling like I had missed the mark in leaving not nearly enough.
I have the think that the magi must have felt a little bit like that. They traveled across deserts to get to the Christ child, bringing gifts that they felt were fit for a king. What must they have felt when they arrived at baby Jesus and realized that gold, frankincense, and myrrh, while glorious, couldn’t add up to being appropriate for the type of king that Jesus was and is. And yet, Mary still treasured the gifts–my guess is not so much for the physical nature of the gifts, but the symbolism behind them.
So, dear Medicis who so often had yourself painted as the three magi during the Renaissance to brag about your piety: you missed the point. The next time you stare at Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi, think about the man in brown on the right and what he brings, instead of what the pompous family presents.