The Italians have many beautiful legends that speak to us about Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding that moment. One, in particular, recounts the visit of the Magi on what we celebrate as the Epiphany. The news of Jesus birth was still spreading amongst the poor in the countryside around Bethlehem. One poor shepherd boy made his way to see this wonder. He arrived just before the Magi. When he saw the rich gifts they brought for the Infant King he was overwhelmed by his own poverty and realized he had nothing to give God’s Son.
Mary was holding Jesus as the kings offered their gifts. There was no place around her to lay her Son so she could receive the tribute of the Three Kings. She looked and saw the shepherd boy, empty handed, and asked him if he could hold her Son!
It is easy to look back at this Christmas Season and regret what we could not do because of the pandemic and how our parish life and prayer had been disrupted. But maybe this Christmas, this Epiphany, because of what we did not have and could not do, we are most able to receive Jesus. And we need Him now, more than ever!