The feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the Christ-Child to the world, is celebrated on the first Sunday after New Year’s day or on January 6. In many countries the exchange of gifts happens not on Christmas day but on the feast of Epiphany, following the example of the Magi who offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.
Children (and even adults) look forward to receiving gifts, toys, surprises, and plenty of food during the holiday season. But hardly any of us think of what to give the birthday Celebrant himself. When they were asked what gift they will give Jesus, the children of Tacloban and Leyte said:
I will give him thanks that I am still alive – in spite of the many storms that passed through our country.
I will celebrate with the Noche Buena. I will thank Jesus that I was able to hold on to a piece of wood during the storm surge and because of that I did not drown.
My gift to Jesus is to help the people who still do not have homes. I will save whatever I can get from the carolling/ pamamasko so that I can give it to them.
“My gift to Jesus is my greatest sacrifice.”
“Huh? What is that?” “Magpapakabait na po ako!
I will try to be good!”
I will make people happy; I’ll make them laugh. And I will share my toys to children who have nothing for Christmas.
He came to church for Christmas day dripping wet. “My gift to Jesus is to help others, to give food to those who are hungry.” He promptly showed a goody bag with snacks, a pair of slippers, etc. ready to be shared.
Quiet and observant, she didn’t say a word. But after the others have left, she asked: “Where are you going, Sister?” When I told her I was going to another barangay, she offered to accompany me and showed the way. And when she was given a teddy bear as a present, she eagerly shared it with her brother and sisters. Her special gift was expressed not in words but through her open and generous heart.
The children’s gifts to Jesus may not be gold, frankincense and myrrh, but they are precious nonetheless. The experience of Yolanda opened their eyes to the harsh realities of life and death. It also filled their hearts with mercy and compassion for their neighbors in need, remaining joyful through it all.