Today’s reading comes from Matthew’s Gospel and tells us about the visit of the Magi at Jesus’ birth. Out of the four Gospels, Matthew’s is the only one to describe the visit.

Though we don’t know how many Magi greeted Jesus, we assume there were three based on the gifts they presented—gold, frankincense and myrrh. Today, we recognize each of these offerings as symbols for Jesus’ role as our savior.

The gold represents Jesus as King; the frankincense, which was often burned by priests, symbolizes Jesus’ divinity; and myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead, represents his death.

We reference this Sunday as the epiphany of the Lord. Jesus’ birth is celebrated among a series of epiphanies to take place during his lifetime. The others include the topic of today’s reading, the visit of the Magi, along with Jesus’ baptism by John and his first miracle.

As we reflect on the meaning behind the arrival of the Magi and their three presents, we are reminded of the great gifts our volunteers give. Whether they serve in the field or lead virtual training sessions, they give one of the most meaningful gifts imaginable—themselves.

Our volunteers give their time, expertise and compassion to serve the world’s most vulnerable. When we give to the poor we give to Jesus—just as the Magi did at his birth.

Samantha Hodge with a young patient in Kenya in 2019

Samantha Hodge with patient and mother in Mutomo

Our former volunteer Samantha Hodge returned home from serving in Kenya just over a year ago. She filled many roles at the Mutomo Mission Hospital, from nurse to teacher to mentor. Her different roles were the result of the incredible need in the community she served. Though she faced many challenges, she tells us her experience only reinforced her interest in long-term volunteer work.

We will end today’s reflection with an excerpt from a recent interview with Samantha.

Going into my volunteer experience in Mutomo, Kenya, I had a passion but no plan. To do this role, I think one needs to harness the energy and mental attitude to say, “Yes. I’m going to change this. This is what I am going to do.” And then put your whole mind and heart in becoming the hands and feet of God. It won’t be easy, but it will always be worth it.

In grace and peace,


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