During the next few days we will be celebrating the Three Wise Men Holiday (3 Kings Day), a cultural celebration that’s been going on for more than 500 years, and in the 21st Century it is still embedded in the traditions of the Hispanic culture in and outsider the United States.
A few days before the aforementioned celebration, the devotees have the tradition of celebrating what is known as the 3 Wise Men Promise. This is a celebration in which the participants request their direct intervention to individual and collective petitions.
In exchange for their intervention, these loyal devotees make a pact, in which they usually promise to pray the Rosary, an ecumenical act, some penitence and/or any other act that conveys a benefit for a specific community.
Part of said pact is the celebration of an activity in which each person promises to collaborate, either it be with music, sing nonstop for hours, offer musical instruments, make an altar for the saintly kings (wise men), decorate the place, cook, all in all, an activity that becomes a collective effort. But, will all this, we have become aware that people have forgotten the fourth wise man, Artabán.
This fourth king (wise man) from the Middle East has been forgotten by history and all related popular celebrations. He was the only one who couldn’t make it to see baby Jesus.
The four Wise Men had agreed to meet in Borsippa, a small village in old Mesopotamia where they would begin their voyage together until reaching the city of Bethlehem. On the way Artabán met with an old man and offered to help him, and thus couldn’t make it on time to see baby Jesus.
This forgotten king by history kept on going towards the city where baby Jesus would be born, but on the way met with many who were in need and without further consideration decided to help them. In the process of helping the defenseless, we were imprisoned for 32 years and were freed on the same day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Time had failed him and he found himself in a very delicate state of health. While he walked on the streets of Jerusalem, trying to keep his promise, his legs betrayed him and he fell to the floor.
Upon trying to stand up again there was an earthquake and promptly afterwards he heard a voice that said “I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was imprisoned and you freed me”.
This noble king sacrificed everything he had in order to keep a promise that he couldn’t keep up and while walking towards his destination he found out that he could help people in need even if it meant that he would be delayed on his promise.
While the news try to sell us images of tragedies that occur daily, we forget to acknowledge those thousands of people that, like Atabán, stop to lend a hand to those in need and make the best that they can for them.