I would like to stay longer and soak up the three world’s religion: Islāmic, Judaism, and Christianity. I want to be with the Muslims, Jews, and Christians: and have interfaith dialogue. At the hotel in Jordan, waiting to leave for Canada, I … Continue reading
Lighting a candle in prayer living it behind to stay alight, kindling in the hearts and minds of others the prayers I have already offered for the people present here, for our loved ones at home, for saints and sinners, … Continue reading
In North America, Christmas is short-lived ending on Boxing Day. But our family, Christmas does not end until the arrival of Three Kings. That is a Filipino tradition that we must have learned under the tutelage of Spanish. When it … Continue reading
The Nativity stage is very elaborate at the church I go to. Bit by bit, every week, more figures show up. The children kept on checking when the baby Jesus will appear. When it did on Christmas, the altar was crowded with people. I have to wait for the crowd to subside to take a picture. I must say, every year, I look forward to the Nativity.
Today, The Three Kings are present Melchior, a Persian scholar; Caspar, an Indian scholar; and Balthazar, an Arabian scholar. Each one bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.
When we sang the traditional “We Three Kings” song, it transported me back at a resort in Taba, Egypt. It was a hot day, and I sheltered myself at the corner of the building. In the background, I could hear the pipe music playing this song in October. It felt like Christmas then.
The stage is finally complete.
Apparently, according to Friar musings, there is still one more week of Christmas, and it ends on the Baptism of Jesus Christ. That is news to me and a good one. Good in the sense that my sister canceled The Three Kings party today. Maybe, I can suggest having a party next week to celebrate the Baptism instead.
“The feast of the Epiphany challenges us to be seekers to the wise men were seekers, to search for God and recognize God’s presence wherever and when God chooses to reveal himself. When we discover one way, God is present to us, wonderful! But we need to keep looking, always and everywhere, for other ways, too. Always seeking and searching for God’s presence in the unexpected. ~ Teresa Whalen Lux, Regina, SK.”
The central figures of the Epiphany story are the three wise men that are also known as the three kings. I don’t think they are really kings, but they are ordinary men that saw a star with great faith. These men were willing and able to see that the star is a great sign to follow even though they don’t know what it means. It led them to a trip of their lifetime to meet the Holy Family: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
The story of the three kings also leads into the story of another man: Herod. Herod was the evil king that was so blinded by his self-importance and power to control. He even killed his own family. Being a mad king, he ordered the slaughter of innocent children because of the birth of Jesus.
The story of the three wise men is something that the movie industry retold in the film The Three Godfathers, western American style. One of the major characters was by John Wayne.
How did they become The Three Godfathers?
It was Christmas time, and the three wise men were up to no good thus no peace on earth but out to rob a bank. The robbers went on a run and found a woman giving birth. The woman died giving birth, but before she died, she asked the three men to be the child’s godfathers. She made them promise to take the child back to New Jerusalem.
The godfathers, although macho, as they were, are but far from being wise. However, they fulfilled their promise and put their own freedom on the line to take care of the baby.
This movie is brilliant in some ways in comparison to the Christian story. The western style Three Wise Men story has it all: the heroes to protect the innocent, gunfight and the barren scenery of tumbleweeds bouncing over.
The story of Epiphany challenges me to continue searching the divine in the ordinary and recognize the God of small things in daily existence.
Needless to say, I received some treats from the Three Kings and then some. Next celebration is Easter Sunday. Mark your calendar that will April 7, 2013.
In my faith, today is also called Epiphany. The meaning from Webster Dictionary is:
: an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
: an intuitive grasp of reality through as an event usually simple and striking
: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
: a revealing scene or moment
: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
Have you ever had an Epiphany? I think I did. And let me tell you this story that happened in 2011 Pilgrimage to Holy Land, Egypt and Jordan.
Pandemonium! Everybody was excited to go home after 21 days of being on the road as a Pilgrim. People are coming in and out of their hotel rooms. Checking each other’s luggage. Sharing stories, pictures and laughter. What did you buy to bring home? What’s your favourite place? What, what, what? Too many questions and I am starting to become tone-deaf. I need some solitude.
I would like to stay longer and soak up the three world’s religion: Islāmic, Judaism and Christianity. I want to be with the Muslims, Jews and Christians: and have an Interfaith Dialogue. But good things must come to an end.
Last night at Jordan side: I retreated to the balcony to find some peace and quiet, drinking tea and having a smoke. The balcony is facing a beautiful garden and overlooking the Dead Sea. I could see Israel from the balcony. On a clear day, I could literally see the walls of the old Jerusalem. On the right, I can imagine the location of Bethlehem, Nazareth and other geographical areas of where ancient time began based on the First and Old Testament. This will be my last trip. I have now covered the places of the Testaments. The Bible will become truly alive in my mind and heart. The readings during the mass will be more meaningful for my mind can conjure the places where I have visited. Gratitude, I am filled with gratitude to my God for making it possible for me to experience the trip of a lifetime.
It’s dark. Only a silhouette of the mountain is visible. The lights were flickering across the waters. Inside the hotel room, commotion ruled.
I settled in the dark, trying to calm myself down. It’s good to be here, Lord. I started speaking in my mind. Careful that nobody will hear me for they already think I’m batty. Don’t care. Then, whispering softly, I raised my right arm, started waving goodbye to Israel.
Oh, what is that? A star? A bright shining star that appeared so close and yet so far. Hmm, is it a plane? No, it’s not moving. Ok then, as I made this schizophrenic dialogue within myself. One asks; the other personality answers. Oh, let me see. That’s Jerusalem, that’s, Nazareth; that’s Bethlehem. Aha! This must be the STAR that the Magi saw. Imagine that and it’s not even Christmas yet.Excitement came rushing out of my body. I must take a picture. Made a quick dash inside the room, grabbed my camera and Neli, another pilgrim, to show her what I see. This rushing must have only taken 15 to 25 seconds. When I got out, the STAR is gone. Oh, no. It’s gone. I was so disappointed and sad that I have no picture to show off about my last night. Checked the horizon if there’s anything floating in the sky that is as big as the STAR. No, it’s pitched dark. Neli gave me “the look”, walked out of the room. Later I followed for it’s time to check out. At Frankfurt airport, I pulled Father Priest on the side and told him about my experience. He simply said in his infinite wisdom, the STAR is meant only for my eyes to see. No camera can ever capture it. I was so moved by his explanation and tears of joy came out. Picture, yes, I have a picture of the STAR; in the eyes of my heart. I praise you, O Lord, for your works are wonderful. Blessed be God forever.