When I was in high school, I played the lead role of the play “Artaban: the Other Wise Man” in our school’s Christmas presentation . This story is an addition or expansion of the story of the Magi, who was left behind by the Three Wise Men. Because he stopped to help a dying man, he was unable to catch the caravan and so he arrived in Bethlehem too late as Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus have already left for Egypt to flee Herod’s wrath which ended in the killing of the innocents.
The story of the Three Wise Men is always recalled everytime we commemorate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany. They left the comforts of their homes when they saw the star rise from the east, to pay homage to the new born King of the Jews. It was a light that revealed to the world the coming of the long-awaited Savior whom the Father sent in the fullest expression of His love.
Today’s Gospel provides us with two contrasting attitudes of people towards Jesus: first is similar to the case of Herod, who was “greatly troubled and all Jerusalem with him.” (Mt. 2: 3) While the other is like the case of the Magi, who were “overjoyed.” Both liked to see Jesus, but for diametrically opposite reasons.
In our life situations we sometimes easily get discouraged when things do not happen the way we like it to be. We think God has already abandoned us or is insensitive to our prayers and needs. We look at things differently because of how we think: one can look at the bad side of a not-so-good event, while another may choose to look at it at the brighter side.
In any case, this Gospel teaches us to look at Jesus as the light and salvation of the world. He redeemed us from the bondage of sin through His salvific death on the Cross. His saving power doesn’t begin when our lives are about to end, but rather, His presence is constant, as He is Emmanuel, “God is with us”. (Mt. 1: 23)
This is comforting because whenever we are confronted with seemingly difficult situations, we only have to trust that He walks with us, and bears with us. There’s always something good that comes out of anything, and we can only be thankful that God faithfully gives us the strength to overcome problems and challenges that come our seemingly treacherous journey.
When conditions are better, human as we are, we have the tendencies to enjoy the situation so much, such that we may start forgetting our dependence on God. His love for us beckons that is why, certain challenges remind us that He is there to help us improve our faith and attitude towards life. We are Champions and therefore regardless of the perils along the pilgrimage, we choose to be happy. Always!
Let this Sunday therefore remind us that whenever events that aren’t of our own liking happen, we should seek discernment from the Holy Spirit to enable us to view it with an open heart and an open mind. Once we begin to think like this, we’ll start feeling God’s abiding presence in our lives. As long as we remain faithful, we can experience life differently, even overjoyed and constantly in awe, just like the Magi on that first Christmas.