What then can I bring him?
Christina Rosetti’s well-loved carol, from which the line above comes, always manages to bring a lump to the throat when we sing it. I think it’s because the words seem to transport us to the manger and bring us face to face with the Christ child. And who isn’t moved by the sight of a baby? But as well the carol is delivering its own homily on the story of the incarnation. It is telling us that in the harshness of our own lives, the reality of God is placed before us in a fragility that we all have experienced. It says that God relies on us to be the instruments of his Good News, and that it is our task to make that Good News known and lived. So the question which is posed—what then can I bring him— whilst it may sound rhetorical, is in fact completely serious and individual.
In our Churches today around the country, on this the feast of the Epiphany, over two million people will be coming to celebrate the fact that God is made man and dwells amongst us. It’s worth asking ourselves how important that is for us, and if it is important enough to bring us to this altar in this Church, what am I being asked to do to. We often say to ourselves what difference can I make to the way things are, or what use will my efforts be in making people change or think differently, and as a result, we tend to dismiss ourselves from any involvement or from taking a more active part in our parish community. We tend to think I’ll leave it to so and so, he or she is always around to do it and so it’ll get done. Well, the more people who get involved, the more vibrant and diverse our parish becomes, and the more people see others starting to do things around the parish, the more they’ll feel like offering themselves as they see just what is possible. Just think of what our parish could be like if instead of just a few people doing the work, there were many of us. Just think of the impetus we would all get from that. Just imagine how uplifting it would be if we said to ourselves I want to get more involved, I want to offer my services to the Lord as a welcomer or as a reader, an altar server or musician. Or I would like to be a member of the Parish Council so that I can bring my ideas to the parish. There are so many areas in which so many of us could become more active within in the parish and all it takes is a first approach, and a little bit of encouragement.
So at mass today, go and visit the crib and just contemplate the arrival of the Magi, who brought their gifts to the infant Jesus. Think about what they brought; gold, frankincense and myrrh and think about what they symbolise. The precious nature of gold, the spiritual symbolism of frankincense and sacrificial sign of myrrh. Together they spell out the essential quality of who I am as a disciple of Jesus. Someone who is precious in the sight of God. Someone who is loved, cherished and valued just for what I am and for what I can do, and, however small or large that may be, it is made sacred.
So, as you look into the crib and ask yourself the question what then can I bring him and do not be afraid to answer it with a resolve to offer yourself in whatever way you feel—you will be generously received and gratefully accepted.