Three Kings Day
“The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” is the sub-title of the Feast of the Epiphany, and that pinpoints its main message. The Jewish Messiah has come, and he has extended the promise made to Israel to the whole world.
Herod, the “King of Israel” tried to kill off this upstart Messiah, and failed. The three Wise Men from the East found him, presented their gifts and avoided the “King of Israel” by going home another way, avoiding Jerusalem. They thus became the first missionaries to their own people, preparing the ground for subsequent missionaries who would come with an update:
“The King you heard about from the Magi as a baby born in Bethlehem and destined for great things has accomplished them.”
“Oh, wonderful! what has he done?”
“He has been crucified like a criminal.”
“No, Israel and Rome crucified him, but God has raised him from the dead.”
“So that’s why the Magi told us they gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. We could never understand the myrrh bit. Gold for a King, of course, and incense for worship, but myrrh is for funerals.”
“Yes, he was anointed with myrrh and buried. But we and hundreds of others are witnesses that on the third day the tomb was found empty, and then he began to appear to us, and my God, what he has been teaching us! Our brother Paul has written a letter about all this and he sums it up by saying: “Now there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female” Jesus has broken down all the false barriers we have raised up between human beings. His Father and our Father calls us all by our names, not by class or race or position. That’s our Gospel, our Good News.”
” Wow! what an eye-opener! But, my friends, I can think of a few folks here who aren’t going to like it! Never mind, come in and tell us more about this baby turned man turned God.”
And so the adventure got off the ground in Ethiopia, in Greece and Asia, in Italy and England, in Australia and the United States of America, in Africa and Asia. And still, it is the myrrh that’s the problem – people are quite keen on power (gold) – though they may call it influence – and worship (incense) – though they may call it spirituality – but when we modern Magi bring up the myrrh (suffering, self-sacrifice and death) they call us morbid. But it is they who are the “grave” people: we are the ones who can no longer be oppressed by the grave, because we are going home another way like the Wise Men. And like the Prodigal Son, what a party we will have! See you there!