By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“…some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the East, and we have come to worship.” – Matthew 2:1-2
Wise Men from the East
January 6 is traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Three Kings. And this marks the end of Christmas celebrations in our country. For the Eastern Church, however, particularly the Orthodox Churches mostly found in Eastern Europe, January 6 is their Christmas Day instead of December 25.
We don’t find the story of the three kings in the Bible; this is actually a church tradition that has been handed down to us. What we read in the Bible is the story of the wise men. They came all the way from the East searching for the child born to be King of the Jews (Mt. 2).
The wise men were not necessarily kings. According to the Bible, they were “men who studied the stars”. Most likely, they were astrologers who study the stars not for scientific reason, but to interpret significant events that are happening or will happen in the future. That’s why they were called wise men.
Wise men (or women) in the Bible are those who draw out important lessons in life by simply observing what is happening in the natural world or in the historical events. These lessons in life are called wisdom; they are believed to be revelations from God. Wisdom guides a person on how to live a good and successful life, and avoid evil, destruction, and death.
Some are saying that the Wise Men from East must be Filipinos for a number of reasons. Firstly, they came from the East, and incidentally our country is in the East. And secondly, they brought with them their gifts or pasalubong, which is known to be a distinct Filipino trait.
Searching for the Truth
Well, I would like to believe also that the Wise Men from the East must be Filipinos but for different reasons. First of all, like us Filipinos, the Wise Men were searching for the truth. They saw a bright star in the East which they believed to be a sign of a king’s birth. And so, they searched the Scriptures to discover the truth. But not only that, they also embarked on a long and difficult journey to search for the king that was born. They did not stop until they found the truth.
The Wise Men from the East must be Filipinos in the sense that we, too, are desperately searching for the truth. We would like to know why our country remains to be poor. We would like to discover who was behind all these killings in our land. We would like to know who was behind all the scandalous scams in government. Certainly, we are also in a long and difficult journey searching for genuine leaders to be born in our land. The signs of struggles and hopes for their birth are all around us.
Returning by another Road
Moreover, like us Filipinos, the Wise Men from the East returned home by another road. In their search for the King that was born, the Wise Men had to go through King Herod. They had to deal with King Herod’s deceptively pious words and actions. Herod claimed that he, too, was in search for the truth, but in fact he was deceptively trying to kill the truth. Ordering the death of innocent children was enough proof of such an evil intention. Indeed, this is the road of dirty politics that even today’s leaders with the likes of Herod love to play with the people.
The Wise Men from the East must be Filipinos in the sense that we, too, are looking for another road. We are already tired and weary of the deceptive ways of today’s Herods. We would like to journey forward by another road.
The ways of Herod are the ways of deception, repression, and even death. But the Wise Men saw a new way of life, different from that of Herod after finding the truth, the Child born to be King of the Jews, giving him their gifts and worshipping him.
The alternative ways that the Wise Men followed as they returned home are the way of truth instead of deception, the way of giving instead of getting, the way of life instead of death.
If only our leaders today will follow the ways of the Wise Men and not the ways of Herod, then perhaps we can have a truly happy and prosperous new year. Amen.
A blessed new year to everyone!# www.nordis.net