The Poverty of Jesus Enriches the Magi

Once the people of a very poor parish set their hearts on acquiring an expensive set of figures for their Nativity scene. They worked hard to raise the funds to buy the figures which were made of rare porcelain. Eventually they had their Nativity set and they were very proud of it.

The church was left open all Christmas Day so that people could visit the crib. In the evening the parish priest went to lock up the church. Before doing so he looked at the Nativity scene. Much to his surprise he discovered that the Infant Jesus was missing. He wondered how anyone could stoop so low as to steal the baby Jesus.

As he stood there he noticed a little girl with a small buggy entering the church. She went straight up to the crib. Then she took the baby Jesus out of the buggy, and carefully and lovingly put him back where he belonged, right in front of Mary and Joseph and the adoring donkey and oxen. Before leaving she knelt before the Nativity scene and said a prayer.

As she was making her way out of the church the parish priest stopped her and asked her what she was doing with the baby Jesus. She told him that before Christmas she had prayed to baby Jesus for a buggy for her doll. She promised him that if she got it, he would have the first ride in it. As she had her prayer answered, she was keeping her side of the bargain.

This story shows the power of Christmas. Christmas evokes generosity in people. To look at the poverty of the Infant King of the universe causes us to open our hearts. By coming in weakness, God’s Son evokes in us a feeling of compassion, thereby bringing our hearts to life.

It was the poverty of the Savior that caused the Magi to open their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and lay them before him. It seems that the poor have always had to pay homage to the rich. But in the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, we see a reversal of the established order of things. It was only the first of many radical changes Christ would bring about in the world.

Instead of being impoverished, the Magi were enriched. It is through giving that we are enriched, because, through giving, we discover our own riches.

The poverty of Jesus is a challenge to each of us. It offers us the opportunity to open our hearts. Jesus no longer needs our gifts, but other’s do. Jesus invites us to share ourselves with one another. When we do, we too will find ourselves enriched. As St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “The greatest poverty is to be unwanted and unloved.” We have the power to change that by giving of ourselves.

— Fr. Dennis, January 3, 2021