ANTIPOLO City, Jan. 5, 2013—Despite the popular greeting of ‘Happy Three Kings!’, a priest explains, the salutation is an inaccurate title to mark the Feast of the Epiphany.
“We don’t celebrate ‘three kings’ and this feast does not exist in the calendar of the Church..In the Gospel, we do not hear about three kings, but of wise men or magi,” Fr. Alfredo Meneses said in a homily earlier this evening at the San Antonio Padua parish in Antipolo.
Wise men, not kings
According to him, even Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo suggested, there could have been, not just three wise men, but many, since the three gifts presented to the infant Jesus do not necessarily point to just three magi.
Despite the prevailing misconceptions about the feast day, Fr. Meneses pointed to the importance of the Feast of the Epiphany because it celebrates the “manifestation of the Christ Child to the entire world”.
“Today’s feast is a big part of the Christmas season that we celebrate,” he added, saying the feast of the Epiphany celebrates the completion of the “characters of the manger” with the coming of the wise men from afar.
It highlights how the salvation the Infant Jesus would bring was meant, not just for the Jews, but for Gentiles — all peoples, Fr. Meneses added.
Gold, frankincense, myrrh
Even the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh the magi gave Jesus, he explained, bear special significance.
By giving gold, Fr. Meneses explained, the magi recognized Jesus as King.
“[Gold] is the symbol of the kingship of Jesus, Christ the King — and not three kings,” he added with a laugh to stress the true focus of the feast.
Frankincense, on the other hand, is a sign of the divinity of Jesus.
Lastly, myrrh represents the Passion that the Lord Jesus will undergo.
According to Fr. Meneses, myrrh was a fragrant spice commonly used by the Jews to anoint bodies of the dead. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]