The Wise Men, and all who long for God

Abel Contreras takes the role of Balthasar, one of the three Wise Men, for the Christmas play at Saint Mary of Mount Carmel, Hammonton on Dec. 22. See more photos on page 15.
Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

This weekend, faith communities around the world, including the Diocese of Camden, will mark the Epiphany of the Lord, remembering the Three Kings’ visit to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Parishioners of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel, Hammonton, though, were already treated to a recreation of the Magi’s story on Dec. 22 as part of a weeklong celebration of the Saviors’ birth.

The multimedia performance, in Spanish and complete with music, lights, dancers and actors portraying shepherds, the three Kings, and the Holy Family, took place in the parish’s Saint Anthony of Padua Church Hall.

“It was a wonderful evening; the people loved it,” noted Sister Veronica Collado, of the Misioneras de Maria Formadora USA, who work in the parish’s Hispanic Ministry.

“The event was the first of its kind at the parish,” she said, with hopes to make it an annual event in Hammonton.

Tradition reveals the names of the Wise Men — or Magi — as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

They bring gifts to Christ: gold, a symbol of kingship; frankincense, a symbol of his priesthood; and myrrh, an embalming oil, a reminder of his death to come.

Last year, on the feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, Pope Francis said the Magi had the courage to set out on a journey in the hope of finding something new, unlike Herod who was full of himself and unwilling to change his ways.

The Wise Men who set out from the East in search of Jesus personify all those who long for God and reflect “all those who in their lives have let their hearts be anesthetized.”

“The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day. But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuity,” he said.