I’m here to speak about one of the most heinous offenses that occur during the Christmas season. Year after year, it goes on, and, sadly, few people have the courage to stand up and say no to it. I’m not speaking about the commercialization of Christmas, with sales and decorations beginning right after Halloween. I’m not referring to the generic greetings of “Happy Holidays,” which, in our politically correct society have become the norm, even, at times for Christians to one another. No, I’m referring to something that, I have to admit, even I have done. Perhaps even you yourselves are guilty of this particular offense as well.

To what horrible action might I be referring to? The answer is simple: regifting. It goes on and on and no one will put a stop to it! It starts out rather simply, of course. I’ll give an example in the life of a priest, especially a priest who teaches: “Let’s get Father black gloves or handkerchiefs.” Well, after a while, Father winds up with 10 pairs of gloves or 20 handkerchiefs, so he begins to give them away as gifts, recycling the original gift, passing it off as a thoughtful present which he himself has bought, carefully plotting and praying that he doesn’t give the gift back to the one who has originally given it to him in the first place! Yes, it’s true. Regifting goes on and on and on in an endless cycle. For instance, it’s been proven that there are only five Christmas fruitcakes in existence — they all just keep getting regifted from family to family.

This Sunday, however, we celebrate a special solemnity in this Christmas season: the Epiphany of the Lord. And on this feast, we are not only permitted to regift, it is expected! What do I mean by this? It’s very simple: at Christmas, we were given a great gift — the gift of Jesus Christ Himself.

Our God — omniscient and omnipotent — deigns to share in our mortal nature through the miracle of the Incarnation. God becomes one like us in all things, while still remaining God. Listen to the words of the preface of this Mass: “(W)hen he appeared in our mortal nature, you made us new by the glory of his immortal nature.” It is through the gift of the Word becoming flesh, a gift far more valuable than gold, frankincense and myrrh, that we are saved. The Lord has been revealed to us as the light to the nations. We are called to follow that star of salvation that He Himself is.

Like these wise men, these three kings, these Magi about whom we read, we are called not to keep this star to ourselves. In following that star, in the reception of the gift that Christ is in Himself, we are called to take that gift of Christ that we receive and to regift it, to share it with everyone whom we meet. How do we do that? Simply by becoming light itself, by permitting the “(N)ew Light that was coming into this world” to transfigure us into new sons and daughters of his. How will we regift the ultimate gift? Each of us has to answer that for him or herself each day in all of the situations in which we find ourselves.

The best explanation of this solemnity was given to me years ago when I was a small child. Christmas is like when a baby is born and the new mom and dad just want to hold and touch and marvel in the new little wonder that the Lord has helped them bring into the world. Epiphany is when that mom and dad take that baby and share him or her with the grandparents, relatives and friends, saying, “Look at this gift that we’ve been given.” This Sunday, let’s give that gift of that newborn King to all whom we meet. Regift that gift — after all, it’s the one time it’s perfectly acceptable.

Father Cush is a professor of dogmatic theology and Director of Seminarian Admissions at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y.