On my prayer table recently has been the verse:
“They opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
What does it mean to open my treasures for God? What, in all that is within me, could possibly be like treasures? What does it mean to offer them to the Christ child?
The Innocence Mission, a favorite band, sings this song, “Green Bus,” about searching for a worthy gift to give; in an analogous sense, I connect it to my search for something to give my Lord:
I walk through deeply gold green gold
For my friend
I cannot find a thing
Beautiful enough for you again.
what could I bring you,
now in the meantime?
Fruit from the sunlight,
quartz from the bay?
And where will I find this,
Perfect and wondrous?
I look into shops,
I slip into rain.
The Magi gave the Christ child gifts that were valuable, meaningful, prophetic. What kind of beautiful, perfect, or wondrous thing could I possibly give to Him?
St. Teresa of Avila, in speaking of the saints (in The Way of Perfection) , says, “They would lose a thousand lives to bring him a small blessing.” My heart says, “I would like to do this . . . I would like to live that kind of generosity to my Lord, too.”
I think about II Cor 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” I think this is the key. It is a bit like C.S. Lewis’ “sixpence none the richer” (from Mere Christianity, where a child asks his father for sixpence to buy the dad a present. As Lewis says, “only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.”).
St. Teresa also says, later in the same book, “we never think we are rich unless we actually see money in our hands.”
Whatever treasure I have to give is not something I can find or fabricate all on my own. It is what the Lord has first placed inside me. The looking for the treasure, deeply in “gold green gold,” in “sunlight,” in “the bay,” in “shops,” and even in the “rain,” is something I must do, something important for my growing and discovering more of the one to whom I wish to give (whether to the Lord or another person).
I think that we can expand Lewis’ thought about the child and the sixpence, wondering that even though God may be “sixpence none the richer” from our gifts, they please him very much, both in our searching and in our offering to Him what he first gave us as a “treasure in earthen vessels.”