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While January 6th in the political realm marked the third anniversary of protestors storming the US Capitol, it also marked the Roman Catholic observance of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. Three Kings Day celebrates the arrival of the three wise men, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar in the Catholic tradition, with their gifts for the baby Jesus. It marks the 12th day of Christmas and parades for the event are celebrated all around the world.

Participation in Three Kings Day did look a little different this year with the continuing wars in Israel and Ukraine. In Bethlehem, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land do an annual reenactment of the Magi’s arrival at the Latin Church of St. Catherine. This year’s celebration met with a smaller crowd than usual under the shadow of Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas. Authorities in Bethlehem canceled all Christmas events in early December in solidarity with the people of Gaza, leaving a notable lack of pilgrims to the area. Local Christians also reportedly boycotted the street events for the Three Kings Day. Speaking to Christian Media Center, custos Father Francesco Patton, said the event would hopefully call pilgrims back to the region. “Seeing that the Magi, that is, the pilgrims in Bethlehem, are missing, I invite all those who wish to come on pilgrimage to make an effort and come anyway. The holy places are open for visits! People need the encounter with pilgrims! We pray, hope, and insist that pilgrims return, so that there may be peace!” he said.

In his Epiphany address, Pope Francis encouraged harmony. “We need to let go of ecclesiastical ideologies so that we can discover the meaning of Holy Mother Church, the ecclesial habitus. Ecclesiastical ideologies, no; ecclesial vocation, yes. The Lord, not our own ideas or our own projects, must be at the center. Let us set out anew from God; let us seek from him the courage not to lose heart in the face of difficulties, the strength to surmount all obstacles, the joy to live in harmonious communion.” He encouraged a return to adoration in Christ’s followers. “And let us ask for the grace never to lose courage: the courage to be seekers of God, men and women of hope, intrepid dreamers gazing at the heavens, the courage of perseverance in journeying along the roads of this world with the fatigue of a real journey, and the courage to adore, the courage to gaze upon the Lord who enlightens every man and woman. May the Lord grant us this grace, above all the grace to know how to adore,” he concluded.

Speaking to Fox News, Pastor Lucas Miles of Nfluence Church in Granger, Indiana called the story of the Magi an “invitation.” “In the midst of an election year fraught with looming political anxieties and economic uncertainties, the story of the Magi illuminates a profound lesson about the potential challenges we may face as we follow God’s guidance,” he said. He added that its commemoration ought to be a challenge to continue life’s journey towards God. “It calls us not only to seek the divine but to embody principles of righteousness and justice in our actions, inspiring hope and guiding our steps as we embark on the journey ahead.”

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