Lessons from the Three Wise Men
Christmas Season: Solemnity of the Epiphany
We all know the story of the three wise men or Magi probably since our parents told us when we were just a kid. But are you aware of the fourth Magi? Artaban is a young Magus (Wise Man) known as the fourth Magi, who desires to follow the star to the birthplace of the coming King, against the counsel of his friends and family. Carrying three precious jewels to give to the baby Messiah, Artaban and his reluctant servant Orontes set off to join the caravan of the three other wise men. They miss the caravan, but Artaban continues the search for his King, always one step behind. Artaban spends much of his remaining wealth and all of his energy helping the poor and unfortunate people he meets, until at the end of his life he finally finds Jesus—not at his birth but at His trial!
When I was watching the movie, I was moved by the strong desire of Artaban to see the king. The king who was wrapped in swaddling cloths when he was born; the king who gave sight to the blind; and the king who gave hope to the captives. Artaban did all that and was therefore a king to his brothers and sisters in need.
The Epiphany is the manifestation of the length to which God has gone in order to be close to us. Epiphany is the manifestation of God’s caring for us, God’s loving us, God’s loving us to the point where He actually becomes one of us in order to give His heart to us, but more importantly so that we could give our hearts to Him. God comes to us in our humanity so that He can be close to us and we can be close to Him. Because God loves us so much He comes to us so that we can belong to each other and to Him.
Three things we can ponder from this occasion as it relate it to the story of the 4th Magi:
1. To make use of our skills for the good of all. Artaban was a physician. When he was confronted by a colony of thieves and people with leprosy, he suspended his search for his king for awhile. He accompanied them and at some point taught them how to plow the field and plant for their living. How do we make use of our talents and skills? The three wise men offered the best treasures they have for the king. Treasures that signify their wealth and more importantly their God-given talents and skills.
We have our brothers/sisters who are in need of our help … in need of our talents and skills. How do we respond to these needs? I witnessed a group of protesters weeks ago protesting about a bank’s incapability to give good options to people who’s about to foreclose their homes. Banks are made to help people, why can’t they help in the time of recession when people are in need of shelter and careful attention. Where are they when we claim benefits from their skills?
2. To protect those who are oppressed. The fourth Magi stayed in the colony for thirty-three long years responding to their needs and helping them the best he could. More importantly, he was there to protect them and spent a great time healing and teaching them. Epiphany is a celebration that reminds us of our basic and primary duty, that is, to give hope to those who may have lost it. We live in trying times in our history, but we can survive this, only if we give up our comforts and start reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need, the oppressed ones in society.
3. To give light to those who may have lost it. We are all in search of LIGHT, the STAR that the Magi followed which directed them to the king. For one, Light signifies TRUTH. Our world today craves for intellectual enlightenment, which will dispel the darkness of mental and moral ignorance. We hardly know the Truth. With all the “truths” we find everywhere, we cannot clearly discern which ones are in accord to the teachings of our Catholic Church. We seemed to be misguided by a different STAR, a different LIGHT so much closer to the darkness of ignorance. A Filipino kid was once asked by his grandmother what TRUTH is, and innocently he said, “We’ll Lola or grandma, truth is when I tell my mother that’s she’s beautiful because that is how God created her to be.” Nice definition, right? Had you been the mother, you will definitely be at the cloud 9 hearing those words. Like what this kid said, truth has its reference on God. As we are created in God’s image and likeness who is TRUTH, GOODNESS and BEAUTY so are we as His creatures.
Let us therefore, be a LIGHT to other people. Epiphany manifested to the three Magi who the true light is, Jesus Christ. By seeing the Child in a manger, they knew right away that he was the king they’re looking for. They were illumined by His light. They knew that all their treasures were not enough as presents/gifts to the child-king. It was their generous hearts with their skills/talents to help those in need; their hearts who could protect those who are oppressed; and their hearts that could give LIGHT and enlightenment to those who are lost that he’s asking from them … and to all of us here present he asks the same thing.
Artaban was finally able to see the king he was searching at the very moment when he was about to die, after Christ or his king resurrected from the dead. In the presence of His king he said humbly that he’s got no more treasures to give him. But in reply, Christ told Him that he’s received all of His gifts right from the moment he served those in need. In the stranger in need of food, he received the sapphire; in the child who was about to be slaughtered as ordered by Herod, he received the ruby; and in another magi’s daughter who was about to pay for the death of her father, he received the most precious pearl.
Do you want to give presents to Christ this year? Well, make use of your skills for the good of all; protect those who are in need; and be a LIGHT to other people!
God bless us all