Myrrh. A strange gift for a baby. The modern equivalent would be showing up to a baby shower with formaldehyde. Because Myrrh was an ointment used on the dead, to mask the smell of putrid flesh
The magi were not being rude; that Myrrh was a prophetic gift. Even in infancy the shadow of the cross loomed over the lamb of God. His destiny eternally sealed. His purpose the salvation of the world, the laying down of a divine life that we might live. So the myrrh foretells Christ’s death. And ours as well. For we cannot follow Christ unless we too embrace that cross, unless we learn how to lay down our life for the sake of the Gospel. The most challenging part of the sanctification process.
It was Pope St Gregory who suggested we offer to Christ spiritual myrrh whenever, by abstinence and self discipline, we mortify the vices of the flesh. Throughout the Christian life we must develop habits of mortification; making small acts of self denial, like forgoing meat on Fridays, to build up a sense of personal discipline and thereby master our passions. Otherwise they will will enslave us and lead us away from the life of grace.
This ancient wisdom, that mortification is healthy to the soul, is unpopular today. Since the sexual revolution a creeping modernism has tended, instead, to downplay the role of grace. We see this in the huge amounts of energy poured, over the last century, into a futile quest to find wiggle room on what God demands of us. To this end hell is often denied and lives not amended. We pretend that what was true for Christians yesterday need not be binding today. As if human nature and temptation has somehow changed??!
The problem arises when people are then dissuaded from mortification meaning spiritual weakness becomes the norm. The life of grace then seems an impossible dream just as gymnastic feats seem an impossible dream to the morbidly obese! We no longer believe sin is unavoidable, and putting up with it, neither does it scandalise us anymore. Soon we speak only of the God of love, never of the God of judgement. We want the crown but not at the price of that cross!
Understand that life changing faith in Christ may be free but it is never so cheap. There is no wiggle room where commitment is concerned. Thus transformative grace, the sort that leads to sanctification, comes only to those who seek salvation by confessing sins, amending lives and pledging to live by his Word. Who seek to be faithful to the Gospel embracing the myrrh of mortification and mastering self.
Joining a gym will not make you fit- you must work and make use of classes and equipment. Equally joining church does not make you pleasing to God- you must work and make use of sacraments and devotions.We must die to the self if we are to truly belong to him. A message that is in danger of being lost in these days of confusion and widespread permissive and heretical teaching. A point that few want to hear but which nevertheless is proved by the witness of saints and martyrs.