Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. Traditionally, this is the Christmas celebration in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In many countries in the West, this is the Feast of the Three Kings, when children, specially in Spain, get to receive their Christmas presents. All of these are honored traditions. Based on the Gospels, there were no kings but wise men. They were not three but they did bring three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The Wise Men were known as Magi, Magus in the singular. They were seekers of knowledge and wisdom. In ages past, they would have been philosophers. Today, they would be like our researchers, scientists, engineers and inventors. In their searching for truth, knowledge and wisdom, they would come upon some ‘AHA’ moments, when some things would all of a sudden, or finally, make sense and they understand. An Epiphany.
There have been several wise men, Magi, who have come into my life and brought me to many epiphanies. I remember some of them:
ESR. He was my favorite teacher in high school. I was struggling with my Geometry and asked him how would I know how to sequence the formula in my Geometry equations. He just gave me a big laugh. I should have been slighted. Instead all of a sudden, I realized the perfect logic in Geometric equations. He also taught me a deep appreciation for words, both written and spoken.
EF. My favorite professor in college. I enjoyed listening to his lectures. He would start off with a seemingly mundane and ordinary topic and would soon be leading us into discussing very deep and very human insights. Or, he would tell of a series of apparently disjointed or unrelated events, ideas or persons and then all of a sudden tie them all up into a meaningful and significant whole.
CHA. My favorite biblical scholar. He literally opened my eyes, my heart and my mind on the meaning and relevance of the Scriptures to my daily life. He would often say that a Christian should live his life with the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other. One tells him what is happening in the world and the other, how to respond what is happening in the world. He helped me to realize that Christ is truly alive and present in my daily life. When he was nearing death, which he clearly saw coming, he told me with a smile, “There is something after death, Verne. And there is someone out there, waiting.”
THG. My mentor in Spirituality. I was not really clear on how to relate to the Jesus that CHA helped me discover. THG helped me make real a life in the spirit. He taught me how to have a real relationship with Jesus. His insights on prayer are priceless. Even now, I practice what he has taught me through almost two decades of spiritual direction.
HJM. My mentor in business. He was the boss with whom I worked the longest. He was a small-town man who made it big in the city. His ways were simple and often humble. But he came across as rough and tough. For people who did not know him, he came across as brusque, offensive, and aggressive. But deep inside, he was all heart and generous to a fault. He was astute and at the same time very judicious in managing the assets assigned to his care, including human assets. He taught me that good people do not always finish first in the rough-and-tumble world of business. But they always last.
ARAB. My mentor in leaving a legacy. I worked with him when I had achieved a modicum of success in my career as a marketing executive. He would often take us on flights of idealistic fancy during our weekly meetings with him, showing how and why we should contribute to making our clientele and our country better. The amazing thing about him is that after the flight, he would land us back to reality and we would hit the ground running. I did accomplish a lot working for him.
JLC. One of the top C-level Executives I have worked for. In the fiercely competitive environment where he excelled, I was always impressed how he managed to keep his spiritual life active and authentic. In the beginning, I thought it was all a put-on and just for show. The longer I worked with him, I realized it was deep-seated and truly springing from genuine spiritual source. He tried and often succeeded to bring Christ in the places he worked in without being dogmatic or proselytizing.
These are some Magi, who have inspired me in my life. There are many others; because in many other places and times, “many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.”