My wife tells me that oftentimes she needs to turn to someone next to her and ask:
"What's that for?"
"Oh I see! A ............."
And she is always assured that this mysterious gift is something the mother or soon-to-be mother of baby would absolutely need. Indispensable! Brilliant idea!
The story of the Magi in Matthew's gospel records what has to be the oddest baby shower ever.
- The guests were all men. Not a single woman!
- They didn't know the baby,
- They didn't even know the parents.
- They weren't from the next parish or from the next country:
- And the stuff they brought--good gracious! It was off the radar!
It was all expensive of course, but really some items were strange to say the least.
If my wife had been there she would have certainly been asking the mother of the baby,
"What's it for?"
And maybe she would be right to ask such a question: I mean ........
Who gives a baby myrrh,
What newborn wants for death's
What boy-child keeps beside him
spices to accompany a corpse?
Why welcome this one's birth
with dying gear--
unless dying is the thing
that brought him here?
Gold for a king...but one whose kingdom still awaits.
Frankincense and myrrh...rich and rare aromatics most often used to embalm the dead.
I'm thinking Mary might have had a hard time with those thank-you notes.
"Dear kind, king: Thank you for the gold. We'll save it for him, of course..." or
"Dear, honorable magi: How thoughtful of you to bring such fine funeral spices to my very-much-alive little boy..."
It's almost as if these foreigners who saw the star and followed it knew more about the baby than anyone else.
"What's it for?"
"It's for a boy who will become a man and die before he rises, and rise before he reigns. He'll need this. Trust us".
Your beautiful boy will wear a crown of thorns--not unlike those from the tree that bore this fragrant offering. And he will reign--but not in your lifetime, or in ours. Gold lasts. It will be good forever.
Welcome, child. Trust us. These are the things you'll need.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.