Yahweh appeared to him at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting
by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day.
He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As
soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet
them, and bowed to the ground. "My lord," he said, "I
beg you, if I find favor with you, kindly do not pass your servant
by. A little water shall be brought; you shall wash your feet
and lie down under the tree. Let me fetch
a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further.
That is why you have come in your servant's direction." They
replied, "Do as you say." Genesis 18:1-5, Jerusalem
The "three Kings of Orient" probably were not kings
at all but dubbed that by later tradition to fit the prophecy
in Psalm 72:11, "All kings will do him homage." Rather,
the "wise men from the East" were Magi, the priest class
of Persia who were the "keepers of the sacred things, the
learned of the people, the philosophers and servants of God,"
who also practiced the art of divination, soothsaying and astrology.
During the Persian empire, they were advisers of kings, educators
of princes, and were held in highest reverence.
The names of the three wise men are not mentioned in the Bible
but appear to have arisen or been passed down through tradition.
Eighth-century British historian Bede was the first to record
their names as we know them today. Melchior signifies "king
of light"; Caspar may come from the name of the Indian king
Gondophares whom the apostle Thomas converted; Balthazar is the
Chaldean name for Daniel.
Then Arthur charged his warrior whom he loved
And honour'd most, Sir Lancelot, to ride forth
And bring the Queen...
To whom arrived, by Dubric the high saint,
Chief of the church in Britain, and before
The stateliest of her altar-shrines, the King
That morn was married, while in stainless white,
The fair beginners of a nobler time,
And glorying in their vows and him, his knights
Stood round him, and rejoicing in his joy....
And holy Dubric spread his hands and spake:
"Reign ye, and live and love, and make the world
Other, and may thy Queen be one with thee,
And all this Order of thy Table Round
Fulfil the boundless purpose of their King!"
Alfred Lord Tennyson
"The Coming of Arthur"
Idylls of the King
Serving two masters proved impossible for Thomas Becket. As friend
and lord chancellor to King Henry II of England, he warned him
he could not also serve as archbishop. "Should God permit
me to be the archbishop of Canterbury," he said, "I
would soon lose your Majesty's favor, and the affection with which
you honor me would be changed into hatred." Upon becoming
archbishop, therefore, he resigned his post as chancellor. Having
been assigned the highest office of the Roman Church in Britain,
answerable to the pope alone, he fulfilled it meticulously. When
Henry's wishes clashed with the interests of the Church, Thomas
refused to grant them. He was later forced to flee to France where
he entered a monastery. But after the French king arranged a reconciliation
between Thomas and his king, the archbishop returned home, remarking
to the bishop of Paris, "I am going to England to die.
"After a tumultuous welcome by the British people, he returned
to Canterbury. But the inevitable clash with Henry took place
when he refused to rescind his excommunication of three rebellious
bishops. Upon hearing of this the king went into a rage and is
said to have demanded, "Will
no one rid me of this traitor Becket!" Whereupon, Dec. 29,
1170, four of his knights journeyed to Canterbury where they brutally
murdered the defenseless Becket as he prayed in the cathedral.
Within three years of his death, Becket was canonized, miracles
abounded and pilgrims came from far and wide until his tomb was
destroyed and his veneration interdicted in 1538 by Henry VIII.
THOMAS MORE, 1478-1535
Omnium horarum homo, the Dutch humanist Erasmus labeled him. Later
the phrase was rendered in English "a man for all seasons."
Lawyer, judge, statesman, man of letters, author, poet, farmer,
lover of pastoral life, ascetic, husband and father, champion
of women's education, humanist and saint, Thomas More was outstanding
among the avant-garde of the English Renaissance.
His talents attracted the attention of King Henry VIII. In 1529
Henry appointed him chancellor of England, a post he fulfilled
faithfully until the king determined to divorce Catherine of Aragon,
who had failed to produce a male heir, and marry Anne Boleyn.
He resigned his chancellorship in 1532 rather than openly oppose
the king, but Henry would not allow his foremost servant to withdraw
from the controversy. When Thomas' opposition extended to refusal
to sign the Act of Succession, as it implied rejection of the
pope's supremacy, he was thrown in the Tower and later charged
with treason. The jury convicted him based on the perjured testimony
of the solicitor general Richard Rich. The sentence directed he
be drawn, hanged and quartered, but the king changed it to beheading.
Thomas was executed July 6, 1535, affirming himself "the
king's good servant, but God's first."
AKBAR THE GREAT (1542-1605)
Questing the truth in all religions, embodying a true spirit of
ecumenism, Akbar caused to be erected at the side of his great
palace at Fatehpur Sikri a building called the Ibadat Khana, meaning
"house of worship." He decreed that on Thursday nights,
"all orders and sects
of mankind, those who searched after spiritual and physical truth
and those of the common public who sought for an awakening, and
the inquirers of every sect, should assemble in the precincts
of the holy edifice and bring forward their spiritual experiences,
and their degrees of knowledge of the Truth in various and contradictory
forms in the bridal chamber of manifestation.
THOMAS MOORE (1779-1852)
Capturer of the soul not only of the Irish but of all freedom-loving
peoples, Thomas Moore belongs in the pantheon of the world's great
poets. A poet distills the essence of a people's longing, and
that is precisely what his Irish Melodies did. While his celebrity
in Ireland, England and America during the early nineteenth century
is well known, his popularity in Eastern Europe, especially Poland
and Russia, is not. Many peoples have since caught the fire of
his poetry that sang already in their blood. His haunting songs
with words that pull the heartstrings, such as "Believe Me,
If All Those Endearing Young Charms" and "The Harp That
Once through Tara's Halls," still evoke tender memories of
This Thomas who had survived two Henrys awakened his people through
more than music and poetry. His political satire and parodies
were in the same vein as today's political cartoons. His aim in
recording the History of Ireland was to interest his people in
their past and to awaken the British to their errors in governing