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Column: Cardinal Rules - The Three Wise(ish) Men

This Christmas Eve, the (not) Primate of All Ireland brings his specially-extended version of the tale of The Three Wise Men… and an aubergine.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

IT HAS BEEN a while since I have presented one of my pieces from the extended version of the Bible. And so, for this special season, I thought it might be fitting to present the full unedited tale of the Three Wise Men.

AND AT THAT time, three wise men from the East came looking for the newly born Messiah. They were robed in silk and all manner of finery. And one among them was called Melkior. It was he who had set them on their path, for he it was who had told them they would follow a star to find the Messiah, rather than visit the Dead Sea as was their annual custom.

And another among them, who was called Balthasar, was disappointed, for he was a creature of habit. He was even known to have assigned days of the week to the various robes and silks which he wore. But Melkior did point out to him that the Dead Sea “would still be there next year.” And the other among them, who was called Caspar, did point out that “besides it’s out of season.” And Balthasar kept his counsel, for Melkior had a point, as did Caspar. And indeed, truth be told, the Dead Sea was also becoming that little bit too touristy for them.

As they travelled they talked joyfully about the king of kings and how they would find him in a palace as befitted his station. And they came to Jerusalem, and asked,  “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he enquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet. Also, you might not want to go out next Tuesday for fear of falling over, for it is written…”

“Yes, yes, Tuesday,” said Herod waving the scribes away. Then he secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. And they told him of what they expected, and how they would find this new born king swaddled in silks. And Herod said nothing, but he did grind his teeth and wince whenever they said the words king, Messiah, and “big cheese.”

He set to rummaging in his robes until he did produce an aubergine with raisins for eyes

Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage. And indeed I have a gift for him.” Herod did then chuckle and stroke his beard in an ironic manner.

“What manner of gift your majesty?” Melkior did ask.

Herod did stop chuckling then, and looked upon him in an anxious and panicked way, and he said “Um, ah, hold on, give me a second.” And he set to rummaging in his robes until finally he did produce an aubergine with raisins for eyes.

“It is an aubergine,” said Melkior.

“With raisins for eyes,” said Caspar.

“It is a child’s plaything,” Herod did shout. And then he waved it about in a gamely fashion, lending it a squeaky voice with his own, and calling it ‘Mr Squiggles’.

“You will go forth and find this Messiah,” said Herod in his ordinary voice. “Mr Squiggles commands it,” said Herod in a high-pitched voice.

And the wise men could only nod in agreement, for they were confused and more than a little bit afraid. And they backed out of the throne room, and left Herod alone to talk to his aubergine.

They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, and their hearts were filled with hope as they thought on this kingly child, who they would find no doubt with a crown on his newborn head.

And so the star stopped over the place where the child was.

“It is a stable,” said Balthasar trying not to fall off his camel.

There were several shepherds whose numbers did seem to swell with each passing moment

And the others answered not, for they were unable. For a while they did not speak, each and every one of them harbouring the secret wish that the star might move a little bit to the left.

On entering the stable, they saw the child with Mary his mother, Joseph his father, and several shepherds whose numbers did seem to swell with each passing moment. And they knelt down and paid the child homage, although they did make a silent agreement among themselves to leave that place as soon as possible. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Afterwards they stayed for a short time, making awkward small talk, all the while avoiding eye contact with the shepherds who spoke of naught but sheep and how they had just come for the snacks.

As they went to depart the child’s father did approach them with an anxious look. “Won’t you stay a little longer?” he asked. “We have refreshments.” And they smiled at him politely, and told him no, they had just had dinner.

And they left that place, and did not return to Herod, for they had been warned not to in a dream, and besides, he liked to talk to an aubergine.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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