There is an old fable about some people in town who waited for a king who never turned up. The people of the town were busy decorating their town when they heard that the king would pass by their town. They decorated the roads with lights. They arranged for royal chairs, stopped all the traffic on the roads and waited impatiently.
The soldiers passed through the town with great pomp and show and behind them came the chariots. But where is the King? Asked the people. He is coming behind, pat came the reply and they waited to see the king coming in all his glory on the golden chariot.
They continued to wait but the king did not come. They were highly disappointed and angry. Suddenly they saw a beggar walking on the middle of the road. When they saw that man they were infuriated and dragged him to the outskirts of the town, killed him and nailed him to a tree. Just then the king’s army came and asked the people, ‘Did you see the king?’ they said no. They asked, ‘‘did you not see the king pass by in the guise of a beggar?”
The Jews who were waiting for their Christ the Messiah had a similar experience. They were looking for a king dressed in all fineries to be in a palace. When the Messiah born as the son of a poor carpenter passed by Palestine they failed to recognize him and took him to the outskirts and crucified him. They did not have the grace to experience Christ.
No one expected the Messiah to be born naked in a manger. The wise men in the assembly of King Herod had calculated and predicted everything except the birth of Christ and thus Christ escaped the cruel fate the other children met at the hands of the soldiers.
In his book ‘Divine Romance,’ Fulton J Sheen clearly explains that two sets of people were able to meet Chris; the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds admitted they knew nothing and the wise men realized, hat they did not know everything. The shepherds were simple folks from the village where as the wise men were seekers of truth. The childlike innocence of the shepherds led them to the divine experience of seeing the infant Jesus and the open minded wise men were able to experience the truth though their kingship led them to the wrong king’s palace, they did not lose the light they found and this light led them to the living God.
The greatest Redeemer, a beautiful book by Monsignor Tilhamer Toth, states that, ‘to seek the Messiah we need to search for him unconditionally.’
The Wailing Wall of Jerusalem is situated at the sight of the Jerusalem temple. I have seen the Jews praying at the Wailing Wall. They keep praying with open scriptures in their hands and striking the wall with their stick. Their constant prayer is this, “Lord please send your Messiah soon and build the temple again.” Who will heed this prayer made without an open mind and with closed eyes?
Can we fault the Jews who are still waiting for their Messiah or the townsfolks waiting for their king? Maybe the future generation may blame the current generation too (Mathew 12:42). We fail to recognize Jesus in the struggling farmer or in the abused women (Mathew 25: 42- 43). “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem” (Isaiah 53: 3).
Let us pray for the grace to recognize Christ the Messiah passing by in our midst in our disguise.
Fr Joseph Nechikkatt