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Lessons from Magi

By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A story is told about a Franciscan, a Jesuit, and an SVD who paid homage to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. The Franciscan was interested in the manger to serve as reminder of the poverty and simplicity their Order professed.

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The Jesuit was more interested to have Jesus enrolled at the Ateneo. But learning of the Jesuit’s intention, Mary whispered to Joseph, “Can we afford their tuition?”

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When they looked around for the SVD, he was nowhere to be found. They discovered that he ran after the 3 Kings … soliciting donations for the mission!

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Today we celebrate the feast of the Magi or Epiphany. It is called “epiphany” because Jesus revealed himself not only to the Jews, the Chosen People, but also to pagan 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, he came not only to save the Chosen People but to all whether Christian or non-Christian, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists. Hence, the teaching of certain church denominations that they – and only they – will be saved contradicts the message of the Bible, particularly today’s 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.

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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).

“Magi” were wise men or enlightened astrologers, not the manghuhula or fortune tellers we know today nor kings.

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

Searching in distant and strange lands requires courage and perseverance.

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

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A taxi driver, Primitivo Salo, was among the 2009 Goodyear “Bayani ng Kalsada” (Highway Heroes) awardees after returning a cash worth P80,000 a passenger left in his cab.

“I have been a taxi driver for many years and I have gotten loyal customers who would call me to drive them home at late nights because they trust me,” Salo said proudly.

I haven’t heard of one single customer complain (of my service),” he added.

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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.

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

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Let’s imitate the fidelity and persistence of the Magi. The Lord said: “He who perseveres to the end will receive the crown of Eternal Life.”

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. There’s an apocryphal story which relates that originally there were 6 Kings and not 3? Only 3 reached Bethlehem. The other 3 got lost. One went to the USA; that’s BURGER KING, and 1 found his way to China; that’s CHOWKING and the third went to the Philippines who became known as TAPA KING.

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