I wrote about the history of this feast and the Magi’s quest for truth last year: the entry is here. This morning I should like to spend a moment or two thinking about the new figures at the crib. The Magi, who have been moving round the oratory with a little help from Quietnun, have finally reached their destination, hobbled their camels and opened their treasures. Our crib figures come from southern France, so there ought to be a few more local characters joining the throng. The garlic seller is there, with his bulbs of garlic strung around his neck: a pretty offering for the new-born Jesus. Right at the back stands one without a gift. Barthélémy is so poor he has nothing to give, so he brings his joy and offers that.
We all stand before God with empty hands. The treasures we offer must be found within ourselves. It may well be that we cannot find the gold of generosity, the frankincense of prayer or the myrrh of service in our lives, but if, like Barthélémy we can find traces of joy and gladness, let us offer those. ‘God loves a cheerful giver,’ and never more so than when the gift we give is ourself.