Today, January 6th, 2009, we celebrate the Day of the three Kings all over Latin America – and all over Latin America inside the United States. The children will find gifts the three kings have left them. Some will tell of seeing the donkeys they rode in their dreams, walking outside their homes carrying the three generous royalty who love children. And in some houses, they will tell the story of the fourth king.
We don’t always tell our children the whole story – because we want to protect the joy of their innocence.When the Three Kings came, following the star, to pay honor and glory to the new born Jesus they were brought before Herod. Herod was the appointed king, appointed by the Roman Emperor to govern and collect taxes from a conquered and oppressed people. Herod told the three wisemen to return to tell him where the new child king could be found – so he too could worship him and give him gifts.
In fact, Herod wanted to kill this wonderful child, this representative of the Kingdom of the Almighty God of his people. Why? Because Herod feared the people he governed. He feared that this new messiah would awaken and unify the people he was assigned to control. He was afraid this new child king would replace him and he would lose his privileges.
When the Wisemen learned of Herod’s wicked plan they left the child by another route to avoid Herod. Furious, the Hypocrit governor ordered the murder of all male children in a desperate effort to destroy the Mesiah.
Warned by an angel, Mary and Joseph set out for Egypt. On this day when we give gifts to our children we also remember that little family, hiding from men who would destroy the family that God had given them, traveling through the night, poor and alone.
Like so many of our families, they treasured the child they had been given, a child that the heavens had blessed. The knowledge of the blessedness of this child which the three wisemen had brought was worth more than the myrr and incense. For that knowledge sustained Mary and Joseph through their difficult journey.
We are not alone as they were not alone. Every time Mary looked down at the face of the baby Jesus she was filled with joy. The courage that comes from joy is much stronger than the courage that comes simply from anger or ambition. For the children God gives us, the families he creates for us, are worth fighting and struggling for out of joy.
In Chicago today my church there has joined with other churches to dedicate the three kings procession to the struggle for immigration reform, the fight to keep families together. There will be gifts for the children. The Governor of Illinois will join Latino elected officials in giving gifts and supporting our cause.
All over Latin America we will also celebrate the Day of the Three Kings in honor of families that are persecuted. And we will tell the story of the fourth king. The fourth King decided not to travel with the other three to find the Christ child. Instead, he traveled throughout the land giving gifts and healing sick children everywhere. For God has blessed each of our children – and blessed each of us with the joy they bring. That is why we will struggle for them with every breath in our bodies.