The King of the Wise Men


The King of the Wise Men

Matthew 2:1-12. The Magi visit Jesus; Herod fears losing his throne

I want to reflect on two points: (1) Herod’s political ruthlessness versus the kind of leader Jesus would grow to be, and (2) the wise men being drawn to Jesus.

First, in mainstream strategic management, the goal of business is articulated as follows (with similar variations):

Competitive advantage.

Profit maximization.

Gaining market share.

Herod’s insecurity against any entity that could topple his rule is beginning to be displayed. The traditional view of kings and leaders is that they are strongmen, ruthless, dictator-like. This is in direct contrast to the kind of leadership Jesus espoused – servant leadership and humility. Jesus seemed to like going against the norm, eh? Haha!

This is parallel to the growing movement today in business and management, that more emphasis should be placed on social and ecological well-being rather than the traditional profit maximizing perspective. If Jesus were to be a manager today, how would he act? Would he rebel against myopic shareholder value maximizing activities? Would he willingly give up enormous executive compensation to help company frontliners get decent living wages? How would he define “value”?

For now, I don’t have the answers to my inquiries, but this is a great segue to the second point for reflection I want to engage in: the wise men being drawn to Jesus.

One thing I have come to deeply appreciate in the Catholic faith is the presence of philosophers – thinkers, proponents of reason. St. Thomas Aquinas easily comes to mind. In my research, I cite Fr. Bernard Lonergan (on insights and the general empirical method) and our action research guru Fr. David Coghlan. When I was young, “science vs. faith” was something that piqued my curiosities. But the existence of these wise men make me appreciate the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge and wisdom; intelligence and reasonableness. There is harmony in science and faith.

What separates a cult and a religion based on authentic spirituality? My answer is how they approach blind compliance versus encouraging critical thinking. A cult = blind compliance. An authentic religion = ethics, virtues, critical thinking.

After all, for a teacher and a researcher, what better spiritual experience than to know God more deeply through a series of aha and eureka moments? Thus, for me, the powerful prayers are those where the Holy Spirit provides me clues on how to answer the dilemmas I may be facing. Helpful hints, not answers in cheat sheets. Right now I feel God telling me that He has carried me multiple times and will continue to do so; but I’d rather see two footprints on the sand, to walk with Him, not just always let Him do the heavy lifting. This is what it means to integrally develop, right? A religion should feel more like a way of life towards integral development, rather than just a series of rules to blindly comply with.

I draw inspiration from how the three wise men sought Jesus. If I fashion myself as wanting to grow in wisdom and insights, maybe I should seek the Word too.

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