Epiphany, celebrated on January 6 is one of the most important feasts of the Catholic Church in which we celebrate the ‘Manifestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ to the Gentiles through His manifestation to the three wise men — Magi (Matthew, Chapter 2, verses 1-12). Epiphany is also the last day of Christmas when the three wise men presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus and go separate ways.
This episode from the Gospel of St. Matthew speaks about only three wise men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. But there is an addiction for this episode to give a specific message to Christians in the form of ‘The Fourth Magi’. When those three wise men travelled from the east under the guidance of the star, they met together and proceeded to meet the Messiah. The fourth wise man also joined them. While they were on their journey with their respective gifts, the fourth man stopped on the midway to assist a man who had been robbed and left half-dead by dacoits. The other three men did not wait for him but continued their journey.
When the fourth man finished dressing up the wounds of the victim by taking him to a nearby inn, it was already dawn and the star which guided them all through the night disappeared from the sky.
Unfortunately, it did not appear or it was not visible due to a cloud cover on the following night and the night after that. Since the other three men had already crossed some distance, it was not a problem for them. The fourth wise man lost his way and he did not know what to do. But, he continued his journey hoping to find the Child Jesus in Bethlehem. As Jesus was taken to Egypt by then, for 33 long years he kept on searching for Him. He became naturally quite old and weary by then.
One day, he saw a huge crowd of people in Jerusalem and enquired what was going on and they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth is being put to death.” “Jesus!” the wise man was astonished to hear it and said, “It is for He whom I’ve been searching for all these years.” The wise man made his way through the large crowd of people and at last found that Jesus was hanging on the Cross in between two thieves. The wise man was in tears. “Lord,” he said, “I’ve been searching for you all these years and now that I’ve found you, you have been nailed on the Cross.” “But you had already found me 33 years ago,” said Jesus.
The wise man was confused! “How is it possible?” he asked. “I’ve been searching for you all these years and you say I’ve found you?”
“Didn’t you stop in between your journey 33 years ago to help a man when he was cruelly beaten up by thieves and lying bruised by the roadside?” said Jesus. The wise man then remembered the incident and was amazed! “Were you the same man, Lord,” he asked.
“Yes,” said Jesus. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40). The fourth wise man bowed his head in reverence and went back home with great joy in his heart for having found the Lord.
“We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain,
Moor and mountain,
Following yonder star…”