Three magi came to the town of Bethlehem, following a sign in the heavens about the newborn king and savior of mankind. There was Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. As these learned men arrived in Judea, they were received at the court of King Herod, who questioned their purpose in his land.

When he heard that the magi had gifts among them, Herod asked what each one meant for the newborn king.

Caspar, the eldest among them, smiled and offered a small chest of gold. “You see these riches, my lord, but these are not mere earthly treasures. Gold I bring to honor the bounty of riches that the Lord has given to all mankind. Nothing we possess here on earth is ours, but belongs to him.”

When Caspar had finished speaking, Melchior stood and presented a bag of frankincense. “Here, my lord, is incense that we sons of Abraham burn. The air we breathe becomes pure, and it is to remind us of the Word of God that gives us life.”

Last came Balthazar, who meekly presented a jar of myrrh. “Look now, my king. This myrrh is like the frankincense we bring, but we bring it to anoint the Holy One. Marked by sacred oil, all will know him as the Messiah. And when he gives his life for the world, as the prophets of Israel foretold, then he will be anointed in myrrh once more, to prepare for our glorious salvation.”

Herod listened, but he feared to share his power with another prince in the land of Judea. Then the magi conferred with each other and said, “This king loves power more than he fears God!”

When they had left his palace, the wise men found the child Jesus with his mother and father. They knelt down and paid him homage. When they gave Mary and Joseph their gifts, the magi told them, “Be not afraid! The Lord has given you three blessings! Here is gold to buy food and shelter for the long journey ahead. Here is frankincense to cleanse the air where the Son of God dwells. And here is myrrh, to anoint his head for the day when he leaves to preach the good news of the Lord to the children of Israel. May we be humbly remembered with these tokens!”