Advent and the Fourth Wise Man

Advent has arrived! Soon we will be celebrating the Christmas festivities with the joy that characterizes this holy season.

What do we celebrate at Christmas time? It is the season when we honor the arrival of the Divine Child Jesus in our lives. The Holy Magi Kings from the Orient also celebrated the arrival of the first Christmas season, for whom we should have a special devotion.

Section of “The Adoration of the Three Kings” by artist Girolamo da Santacroce (1525-1530)

We know about the Holy Magi Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, who brought, to the Infant Jesus, the gifts of gold (symbol of His royalty), frankincense (symbol of His divinity), and myrrh (symbol of His sacrifice).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in the volume titled The Infancy of Jesus (2012), which is part of his series of books titled Jesus of Nazareth, describes the Holy Magi as “searchers of the truth.” And, undoubtedly, it is very significative that Bethlehem, the town in Palestine where Jesus was born, means “The House of Bread.”

A book, The Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke (1895)  elaborated s tale on the “what if there had been a fourth wise man?” According to tradition, his name was Artaban. Father Juan Garcia of Spain, in an article dated January 2018 that was published in the Catholic Spanish digital magazine titled Religion en Libertad (Religion in Freedom), writes that the four wise men had agreed to meet in Mesopotamia. From there, they would depart towards Bethlehem, following the star that would lead them to an encounter with the Infant King.

Artaban carried with him, as a gift that he would lay in front of the manger, a set of precious stones that probably symbolized the virtues. On the way to the meeting point, Artaban met an old man who was sick, and he stayed to care for him. Because of this, Artaban arrived late to meet up with his travel companions. Undeterred, Artaban used on of his gifts to buy camels and followed the way that had been laid out to reach Bethlehem. When Artaban arrived in Judea, he found himself in the midst of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, after Mary and Joseph had fled into Egypt. Immediately, Artaban encountered a young male child who was running away from one of the soldiers of King Herod. Artaban offered one of the precious stones to the soldier in order to save the life of the child. The child was saved, according to the story, but he felt saddened that one more of his treasures reserved for the Christ Child was gone. He wandered for many years searching for the true King of Kings.

Artaban eventually learned that a man, who called himself the Messiah, was being crucified in Jerusalem. Artaban had no doubt that this was the Infant Jesus whom he had long sought to meet. He went up to Mount Golgotha but on the way, he Artaban defended the life of a persecuted child, who would have been sold into slavery. He gave up his last gift, and then the ground shook with an earthquake, and the heavens with dark. Knocked to the ground, he awoke to hear our Lord’s voice, comforting him, and realized that his gifts had indeed reached Him, and his noble gestures had won for him an eternal life with Jesus Christ.

Let us hold, imitate the spirit of this fictional fourth wise man, Artaban.  As we prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas Day, this is the perfect time to offer up little sacrifices in this season of hope, for the pro-life and pro-family movement. We may not have jewels of great price, but if God in his wisdom allows us to help save a life, whether through prayer or witnessing at a crisis pregnancy center, or even caring for an elderly loved one, is not even that one life worth more than a “pearl of great price?”

HLI wishes you all a blessed final week of Advent.

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