Sunday, January 6, 2013

A journey of faith by the three wise men from the East

Today, the Roman Catholic Church is celebrating what is called as the Feast of Epiphany. In the Philippines, it is the last day for the longest Christmas celebration in the world which officially starts on December 16th. It is also a day for the visitation of the three wise men from the East known as the Magi who happened to be also kings namely Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar to the baby Jesus and brought Him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. The date was fixed on the 6th of January being the 12th day after Christmas. It is also known by many today as the "Happy Three Kings Day!"

The fixed date for Epiphany and even Christmas may have been a subject of debates for many within as well as without the Church, a complex a feast as it may be, one thing is certain though: it happened. In a much deeper sense, the Feast of Epiphany is for the Christians to celebrate the incarnation of God to a human form in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is the Feast of Manifestation. It is the complete fulfillment of a divine promise, the coming of the Light into the world through Christ.

The book of Matthew in the Bible has mentioned about the visitation of these wise men from the East in chapter 2 verses 1 to 12: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Actually, it has remained to be unknown as to how many wise men from the East who came to worship the baby Jesus but it was assumed there are about three of them based on the number of gifts being given: the gold, the frankincense, and myrrh. They were thought to come from somewhere in Persia or even Babylon. I would like to believe that these wise men from the East belonged to the top-notched class of astrologers of their time who, upon seeing Jesus’s star, by faith embarked on a journey towards a still unknown far away land with only the star as the guide, and when they found the bearer of that star, worshiped him and offered what were the precious gifts.

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