Friday, December 21, 2007

Wrapping Gifts, and Practical Men's Example


This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men; Gaspar, Balthazar and Herb, went to see the baby Jesus and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact: There is no mention of wrapping paper. If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so:

"And lo, the gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense."

But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:
1. They were wise.
2. They were men.

--Dave Barry, quoted in The Ironic Catholic

There is, of course, a contrarian reading of the text.

COUNTERPOINT, by the Ironic Catholic:

It has been said that a critical reading of Matthew argues that the Magi, being "wise men," did not wrap the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh given to the Christ child; ergo, Christmas givers should not wrap their gifts as well.

A historical-critical interpretation of the text, as licensed by Dei Verbum, yields an important counterpoint: there was no wrapping paper in 1st century Palestine. The precious nature of papyrus did not lend itself to one-time use. Let's face it, people weren't pounding reeds on rocks, painfully extracting the fibers, and drying them into paper to wrap anything.

However, the practice of wrapping gifts is evidenced in other sections of the Bible. For example, in Genesis 43, the gifts of silver, honey, spices, and myrhh that Joseph's brothers brought to him in Egypt were wrapped in sacks. In Genesis 24:53, "Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah", the text clearly implies that the gifts came out of a container, perhaps, a gift box, by the verb "brought out."

Finally, we can agree that the greatest gift the world has known is Jesus Christ. And what did the Blessed Mother do? "She wrapped him in swaddling clothes...."

If Jesus was wrapped, so should we wrap our Christmas gifts, because...
1. The Blessed Mother was wise.
2. She was a woman.

I don't have to point out that The Ironic Catholic is a female, do I?

My exegesis, (NOT licensed by Dei Verbum, nor any responsible churchman)

We've ignored the very practical question by discussing "wrappings." It's how you SEAL the wrappings that counts.

Now when we examine the Saints highlighted in the Gospels, we find very practical people: Peter, a fisherman; John the Baptist (lived on locusts and honey); Luke, an MD; and Matthew, a tax-collector.

In contrast, the Gospel does not look with favor on the 'societal elites,'--Scribes, Pharisees, etc., who were fashionable folks.

Fashionable folks wrap--as do practical ones. It's the FASTENING that counts. Given what we know about practical people, we can reach only one conclusion:

Seal your wrapped gift with DUCT TAPE!!!

1 comment:

Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

I knew Duct Tape was involved before I even reached the bottom.