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Lessons from 3 Kings

Here’s a story of three priest friends – a Franciscan, Jesuit, and SVD. They paid homage to the Christ Child in Bethlehem but having different religious motives. The Franciscan was interested to bring home the manger to remind his community of theirvow of poverty which they profess.

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The Jesuit was more interested to have Jesus enroll at the Ateneo.

When they looked around for the SVD, he was nowhere to be found. They discovered later that he ran after the three Kings – soliciting donations for the mission!

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We celebrate todaythe feast of the “Three Kings,” Magi or Epiphany. It is called “epiphany” because Jesus revealed himself not only to the Jews, the chosen people, but also to pagan (gentile) visitors. Epiphany – from the Greek term “epiphanein” – means to manifest.

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The gospel writer teaches that Christ’s salvation is UNIVERSAL, that is, embracingall peoples. Hence, the teaching of certain church denominations that they – and only they – will be saved clearly contradicts Jesus’ teachings, particularly the Epiphany event.

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Another thing to correct is the misconception that the mysterious personages that came to pay homage to the Christ Child were kings as popularly known.

Matthew, the only evangelist who recounts the episode of these personages, wrote: “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea…behold, Magi came from the East to Jerusalem…” (Mt 2,2).

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Magi were wise men or enlightened astrologers, not the manghuhula or fortune tellers we know today. That the wise men were transformed into “kings” by common belief is due to the corrupt interpretation of a messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, thus: “The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer gifts.” (Ps 72).

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What’s the message of the Magi episode in our life? According to Matthew, the wise men searched for the new-born Child. Searching requires courage and perseverance.

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In practical life, it takes a strong conviction to be faithful to one’s religious principles and persevering moral integrity.

One example is a taxi driver, PrimitivoSalo. Hewas among the 2009 Goodyear “BayaningKalsada” (Highway Heroes) awardees after returning a cash worth P80,000 a passenger left in his cab.

“In fact, I have gotten loyal customers who would call me to drive them home when it’s late at night because they trust me,”Salo said proudly.

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In married life, it also takes moral courage and perseverance to remain a faithful husband or wife in a milieu where infidelity and broken marriages abound.

The British statesman Thomas B. Macaulay once said: “The test of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found.”

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Moreover, in our society characterized by perennial new beginnings and ningas cogon like the anti-littering, anti-smoking or anti-vote buying laws, perseverance and consistency are needed so people may get to learn a good habit.

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May the Magi in this Sunday’s gospel teach us to practice fidelity, firm conviction and perseverance.
HAPPY THREE KINGS!

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LAFF WITH GOD.Did you know there were originally 6 Kings, not 3? Only 3 reached Bethlehem. The 4th went to the USA; the 5th to China, and 6th to the Philippines. They were: BURGER KING, CHOWKING and TAPA KING, respectively.
(Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)

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