By tradition we all knew their names as King Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazhar. Thou from the vision accounts of mystic Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, it mentions a different name it speaks of the tradition and allow me to quotes lines from her visions to picture how the saint guided by God was able to see and experience the first Christmas offering from The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Anne Catherine Emmerich:
“I have already related on Christmas Day how I saw the Birth of Christ being announced to the kings on Christmas night.”
“I now saw Mensor bringing out of a pouch hanging at his girdle a handful of little thick shining bars. They were as long as one’s finger, pointed at the top, and speckled with little gold-colored grains in the middle. He offered these to the Blessed Virgin as his gift, laying them humbly on her knee beside the Child. She accepted the gold with loving gratitude, and covered it with a corner of her cloak. These little bars of natural gold were Mensor’s gift, because he was full of fidelity and love and was seeking for the holy truth with unshaken fervor and devotion.”
“…Seir, the dark-brown one, came forward with his following and, falling with great humility on both knees, offered his present with touching words of homage. This was a little golden incense-boat full of little greenish grains of gum, which he laid on the table before the Infant Jesus. Incense was his gift because he embraced the will of God, and followed it willingly, reverently, and lovingly. He knelt there for a long time with deep devotion before withdrawing.”
“Theokeno, the white-skinned one, and the oldest. He was very old and heavy and was not able to kneel down; but he stood bowing low and placed on the table a golden vessel containing a delicate green plant. It seemed to be rooted; it was a tiny green upright tree, very delicate, bearing curly foliage with little delicate white flowers. It was myrrh. His gift was myrrh, because it symbolizes mortification and the overcoming of passions; for this good man had conquered extreme temptations to commit idolatry, polygamy, and to give way to violence.”
Aside from these very insightful details of the first gift giving the three gifts are valuable in so many ways during their time.
Gold has always been a symbol of riches and wealth. A valuable element and a precious metal used in many ways like coin and jewelry. It was mentioned many times in the Bible to represent riches worthy and fit for royalty. The Temple of King Solomon was decorated with overlay of gold. Incense was valuable, with other spices, were used in offering to God in the Old Testament. It was even mentioned in the Book of Exodus ground and burnt as an offering before the Ark of the Covenant. Even at present times, frankincense or its essential oils has its medicinal properties. Myrrh was also an important element for it was used together with incense for worship and prayer. Its essential oils’ fragrant qualities and healing properties are vital in life and even in death. Myrrh was mentioned several times in the old and new testament, all pertaining of spiritual significance. In the Book of Exodus God it was mentioned: And the Lord spoke to Moses, Saying: Take spices, of principal and chosen myrrh five hundred sicles, and of cinnamon half so much, that is, two hundred and fifty sicles, of calamus in like manner two hundred and fifty (Exodus 30:22-23). Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used myrrh when they bury the Messiah (John 19:39).
Gold also represents the gift to a King. Myrrh symbolizes the mortal side of Christ, while frankincense signifies His divine nature.
Gold symbolized the love of Christ. Frankincense His priesthood. Myrrh Christs’ bitter passion and death.
We have a lot to learn from these gifts for its spiritual significance. That from birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, humility. In His passion and death, sacrifice. That we ought to follow His unconditional commandment, Love (gold). To never cease in thanksgiving and faith in prayer (frankincense) to God. To believe in God’s plan for us and accept the bitter pains we have to accept and suffer (myrrh).
“Therefore, we wanted to open ourselves and sought for a star to show us the right way. And it arose for us in the grace of vocation. We followed it and found the divine infant. He stretched out his hands for our gifts. He wanted the pure gold of a heart detached from all earthly goods; the myrrh of renunciation of all the happiness of this world in exchange for participation in the life and suffering of Jesus; the frankincense of a will that surrenders itself and strains upward to lose itself in the divine will. In return for these gifts, the divine Child gave us Himself.” – St. Edith Stein