Reflection On the Epiphany of the Lord by Fr. Randy Flores, SVD
Epiphany is often called the Feast of the Three Kings. At its background is the allusion of “kings” coming from different Gentile nations streaming to Jerusalem with their lavish gifts like gold and frankincense (Isaiah 6).
The Evangelist Matthew mentions another gift, “myrrh.” Since there are three gifts so there are three kings.
We can speak of five kings, and one queen. the three kings; Herod, the king of Judea; the Newborn King of the Jews; and the queen-mother of the Newborn King.
The “three kings” have come from the East (the Orient) or Anatole in Greek—the place of the “rising” of the Star. They are Gentiles (from pagan nations, believers of different gods and goddesses, including the luminaries of the sky). They are sages – “magi” (a Persian/Iranian word). In the ancient world, the kings are associated with wisdom, just like Solomon. They can read the signs of the times (the appearances of stars, for example) and the abundance of their wealth means the greatness of their wisdom. “Long life is in her (wisdom’s) right hand; in her left, wealth and honor,” says the Book of Proverbs.
The first four kings have a common goal: to know exactly where the Newborn King of the Jews was born.
The “three kings” are guided by the Rising Star.
Herod, the king, through his priests and scribes, are guided by the Holy Bible.
Both “guides” are correct: they point to Bethlehem.
But they have different motives. The “three kings,” full of excitement wanted to pay homage to the New King (adoration); Herod, full of fear, wanted him dead. The “three kings,” in a gesture of humility, surrender their crown to the new Throne (ironically, the Manger). Herod, driven by greed covet the Throne.
Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to these “three kings” who went home no longer kings. But we celebrate what they did thousands of years ago during the Feast of the Epiphany. Tradition even gave them names: Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar. And they are immortalize in Christmas carols like, “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit… May Tatlong Haring Nagsidalaw.”
And Herod, the coveter of the Throne? Here’s what the first century historian Josephus wrote about him:
“He had a fever, though not a raging fever, an intolerable itching of the whole skin, continuous pains in the intestines, tumors of the feet as in dropsy, inflammation of the abdomen, and gangrene of the privy parts…. He also suffered from asthma, limb convulsions, and foul breath.”
In the game of thrones in the world, let us go the way of the “three kings,” and Herod’s.