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Helping others is the essence of our religions

5 January 2019 12:03 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Christmas season formally ends tomorrow with the feast of the three Wise Men, kings or magi as they are referred to in the scriptures or in other writings. Of equal importance to the world today – with issues such as poverty alleviation assuming crisis if not break down proportions – the parable of the fourth Wise Man is also significant.   


The three Wise Men are known to have come from the east – the birth place of most major religions though the western world has hijacked some of them. Let us assume that the fourth Wise Man came from Sri Lanka and his name was Navarathna. Through some means the other Wise Men had communicated with him and said that a new star would appear to mark the birth of whom they considered as a King of Kings. When the star did appear the other three Wise Men informed Navarathna, and he set off soon on a camel or a donkey. He carried with him three precious diamonds to be given to the king.   


Somewhere on the way, this fourth Wise Man or Navarathna faced an issue. He saw a man who had been attacked by robbers and lay dying in a lonely area. The fourth Wise Man thought deeply about what he should do. Ultimately the question to which he gave a response was, “If I do not go to help that dying stranger, what will happen to him?” The source and the centre of the response was “him – the other person.”   


Most of us, most of the time, sometimes in subtle ways are selfish and self – centred in what we do. But all major religions tell us that we need to gradually be liberated from slavery to selfishness and self – centeredness, thus becoming other – centred. This is the way in which we could make a sincere and lasting contribution to make the world a better place so that people will love one another, share more and care more and be ready to be merciful or compassionate.   


So Navarathna decided that he would stop and help the dying stranger. He took him to the nearest medical centre, gave one diamond to the owner and told him to look after the dying stranger for as long as necessary.   


This may have taken a few days and when the fourth Wise Man got to Bethlehem, the other three had come, worshipped the King and gone in another direction. When the fourth Wise Man came to Bethlehem, he heard women screaming because King Herod had sent his soldiers to kill all children below the age of two, so that he could get rid of the King, who could pose a threat to him. The fourth Wise Man went into a house and saw a woman hiding in a corner with a baby in her arms. Just then a soldier appeared and the fourth Wise Man took another wise decision, he gave his second diamond to the Roman soldier who went away without killing the child.   


For more than 30 years, the fourth Wise Man kept searching for the King. Then he heard that the King had been condemned to be crucified. So he went towards calvary, because there was a law, that if a diamond was given, the convicted person would be released. But on the way to calvary he saw a screaming young girl. Her father had been unable to pay a debt he took from someone and according to the law; the debtor had to give his daughter as a sex slave to the person to whom he owed the money. The young girl pleaded with the fourth Wise Man to help her. Again he pondered and gave his third diamond to rescue the young girl. Just then there was an earthquake and thunder at the time of the crufixion of the King. A boulder fell on the fourth Wise Man and he lay dying on the ground. The grateful girl knelt near him and heard him speaking to someone with his dying breath. She heard the fourth Wise Man asking someone “when did I give you the three diamonds?” The other voice responded, “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did unto me?” The fourth Wise Man passed away peacefully.   


Let us make a New Year resolution and seek the grace to be like the fourth Wise Man, and realize that in all major religions, liberative spirituality calls us to be other – centred, help more, share more and care more.   

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