There is a very funny movie called The Three Amigos. The Three Amigos are three actors who entertain people by pretending to be heroes. The reason it is funny is as they perform their act in a town, they realise with horror that the town hired them to really liberate them from real evil, smelly and deadly criminals
Our readings today also talk of three amigos – but what is interesting about these amigos is that they are not pretenders. Our wise men of today are deadly serious – so serious that they risk their own lives on months of desert travel, so serious that the government wants to know the results of their research, so serious that their leaving precipitates the government-sanctioned killing of innocent children – a barbarism which our governments still encourage under the name of abortion.
This is why the wise men are so important to our tradition: they are reliable, unbiased witnesses to the concrete and historical reality of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. Why so reliable? Because they are so unbiased. They are not Jews. They are certainly not Christians. And they are not credulous uneducated people. Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar are thoughtful scientists – students of the movement of the cosmos and the meaning of that movement. And even though they are pagan scientists, even they tell us today: that Jesus is the infant king of the Jews?… ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ And this is the three things this feast tells us of Jesus today: that he is the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and the Saviour of the World.
That Jesus is the Messiah of Israel is important to us: it means that it is for the coming of Jesus that the whole Old Testament prepared the world for.
The second thing this feast teaches us is that Jesus is the Son of God. So Jesus is not one prophet among many. He is not simply a wise teacher. He is not equivalent to the gods of other religions. That Jesus is Son of God means is that he alone is God, that he is the only Word of God, and that other religions and beliefs only have goodness and truth inasmuch they take their reference from him. As Vatican II teaches us: The Catholic Church…regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which…often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men…Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life. (Nostra Aetate 2).
Today also teaches us that Jesus is the saviour of the world. This means that there is no other way to be freed from evil, or to get to heaven but through Jesus Christ. This does not mean that all non-Christians go to hell. What it does mean is that those non-Christians who do the good as well as they honestly know it are only able to enter heaven for the same reason we can: because of the work of Jesus Christ and his body the Church he constituted to save humanity.
And so it is these three things we receive the grace to etch into our bodies and hearts today. So let us each take 10 minutes today, before the crib here or in our home, to do as the kings teach us – to kneel humbly before our Creator in the manger, asking him to help us make the decisions of our daily life in a way which better acknowledges ourselves us nothing, and him as our Messiah, God and Saviour.