The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany today, whilst many other countries who still observe the feast of the Three Kings, Germany included, still adhere to January 6th. I’ve written before about my own upbringing with the feast in Mexico, and this is the date that Christmas officially ends for me, not before. I may not be emotionally or sentimentally attached to New Year’s Eve or New Year in particular, but I do hold the Three Kings in high esteem. Deep down I keep hoping Mommy and Daddy have left a special something for me to wake up to, even though that is a tradition long gone now.
This morning’s homily struck a raw nerve and gave me a lot to think about, not to mention shocked me to the core.
For centuries when we referred to the Three Kings the focus was always on the gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the three items that have traditionally been a part of any royal birth during those times. The symbolism that emerged from this has been discussed time and time again, and taken to heart. That is all well and good, but what the priest this morning proposed is a radically different approach that resonates with the times and well as with those who are perchance a little lost. The true magic of the Three Kings is in the journey they took, and not in the gifts they brought
The willingness of these three wise men (again, this is an ancient debate – were they three kings or three wise men aka astrologers, alchemists, etc…) to embark on a search for the unknown based primarily on faith, guided by a star (ergo the argument for at least one of them being an astrologer). More importantly, their humility in spite of their positions of grandeur, knowledge, and power, to ask for help from others. The Journey of the Three Kings is not about the material wealth they brought, but rather the treasures of the heart: faith, courage and being a light for others.
Lux in Domino.
Light of Christ.
This is the motto of my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University, a jesuit university that places equal importance on academic excellence as well as service. As Ateneans we adopted the motto upon enrolment, and learned along the way how to integrate these guiding principles into our lives, both in and out of the hallowed halls. But many will admit to having simply memorised the motto without really knowing or wanting to apply this into their lives and careers. How on earth are you supposed to be the light of Christ while trying to excel in the cut throat corporate world or entangle legal systems? It is a dichotomy easily forgotten once the idealism of youth fades and the desire for prestige and power increases. Few are those who remain faithful to the motto of lux in domino and the ignatian principle of being men for others (well, men and women for other).
Living lux in domino is a courageous journey into the unknown, knowing that you have the power to change your direction, selfless enough to be an instrument of change, and are humble enough to ask for help and guidance.
Be a guiding light.
Shine the brightest when it is darker.
Embrace the Journey of the Three Kings.
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