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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Two - The First Initiation - The Birth at Bethlehem
When they saw this star shine forth, the three Kings undertook a journey and, laden with gifts, came to Bethlehem. They are symbols of those disciples in the world today who are ready to prepare themselves for the first initiation, to transmute their knowledge into wisdom, and to offer all that they have to the Christ within. [73]

The gifts they brought teach us the specific type of discipline which must be undergone in order to present to the Christ, at the time of the new birth, gifts which will be symbolic of achievement. These three offered to the infant Jesus three presents - gold, frankincense and myrrh. Let us study for a minute the specific importance of these to the individual would-be initiate. We are told by the esotericists that man is a threefold person in his human nature, and this truth is endorsed by the psychologists through their investigations and research. He is a physical living body, he is a sum total of emotional reactions, and he is also that mysterious something which we call a mind. These three parts of a man - physical, emotional and mental - have to be offered in sacrifice, worship and as a free gift to the "Christ within" before that Christ can demonstrate through the disciple and initiate as He wishes to do. Gold is a symbol of the material nature, which must be consecrated to the service of God and of man. Frankincense symbolizes the emotional nature, with its aspirations, wishes and longing, and this aspiration must rise as incense to the feet of God. Incense is also a symbol of purification, of that burning which removes all dross and leaves only the essence for the blessing of God. Myrrh or bitterness relates to the mind. It is through the mind that we suffer as human beings, and the further the race progresses and the more the mind develops, the greater seems the capacity for suffering. But when suffering is seen in its true light and dedicated to divinity, it can be used as an instrument whereby we approach nearer to God. Then we can offer to God that rare and wonderful gift of a mind made wise through pain, and a heart made kind through distress and through difficulty surmounted.

As we study the meaning of these three gifts brought by the disciples of old to the infant Jesus, and as we see their meaning as it applies to our individual situation, it becomes equally apparent that today humanity, as a race, stands before the infant Jesus, in the House of Bread, at the end of a [74] long journey, and can now offer, if it so will, the gifts of material life, of purification through the fires of adversity, and of the suffering to which it has been subjected. Humanity can journey from Galilee by way of Nazareth. Gold, the thing that today seems to be the very life-blood of the people, must be consecrated to the Christ. Frankincense, the dreams and visions and aspirations of the multitude, so real and deep that the nations everywhere are struggling for the expression of these dreams - these too must be dedicated and offered to the Christ, that He may be all in all. And the pain and suffering and agony of humanity, never before so acute as now, must surely be laid at the feet of Christ. We have learnt much. Let the meaning of it all penetrate into our hearts and minds, and let the reason of the pain drive us to offer it up as our ultimate gift to Christ. Pain is ever the accompaniment of birth. Suffering is found. within every birth chamber. The realization of this awakens the deepest and most constructive kind of optimism in the minds of those who ponder upon world suffering and agony. May it not indicate the birth pangs which precede the revelation of the Christ? When it is realized, then we can say with St Paul:

"For His sake I have suffered the loss of everything, and reckon it all as mere refuse, in order that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, derived from the Law, but that which arises from faith in Christ - the righteousness which comes from God through faith... I do not say that I have already gained this knowledge or already reached perfection. But I press on, striving to lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus... But this one thing I do - forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me, with my eyes fixed on the goal, I push on to secure the prize of God's heavenward call in Christ Jesus. Therefore let all of us who are mature believers cherish these thoughts; and if in any respect you think differently, that also God will make clear to you. But whatever be the point that we have already reached, let us persevere in the same course."
- Phil., III, 8, 9, 12, 16, Weymouth Translation. [75]

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