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The Magi's Tipping Guide

In visiting a fine restaurant, a useful tool to bring is a wallet card known as a "tipping guide." It lets the diner know what is the customary gratuity for a waiter, a bartender, a wine steward, a maitre-d'.

Were the magi following any sort of ancient tipping guide when they brought their gifts to the Christ child?  How did they choose what gift was appropriate for a child-king such as this, one who was utterly unique in human history?

There could have been no tipping guide for one such as him, for he occupies a category of one.

Tipping guides generally trade in percentages.  That sort of calculation doesn't apply in this case.

The final stanza of Christina Rosetti's hymn, "In the Bleak Midwinter," perhaps captures the sort of thought-process that motivated the magi:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.


How, indeed, is it even meaningful to speak of giving a percentage of the human heart? It's like the Judgment of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:16-28.  You can't bisect a baby without destroying it. Neither can you carve up a living human heart and distribute its parts here, there and everywhere.

So, what gift do we bring to the Christ child?  Indeed, only one gift is appropriate, and the word "tipping" can't even be used to describe it.  It is the gift of our heart.

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