January 8, 2017
The Epiphany of the Lord
IS 60:1-6 PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6 MT 2:1-12
It’s interesting that only the wise men of the Orient saw the star and recognized its significance, while all of Judea – awaiting the Messiah as promised by God – was oblivious until they arrived in Jerusalem, asking “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” It wasn’t until King Herod assembled his advisers, chief priests, and scribes, who pored through the Scriptures and found that it was in Bethlehem where the Christ would be born, that they realized God’s promise was being fulfilled.
But they never noticed the star?
I remember watching a video called ‘The Star of Bethlehem’ in which the presenter – a lawyer, in fact – laid out a rather compelling case as to the nature of this star. He had used a computer program called ‘Starry Night’, and reproduced the night sky at about the time of Christ’s birth. It’s a fascinating video, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. One point I remember was that this star wasn’t insignificant or some small pinprick of light. It would have been remarkable, and noticeable – after all, there was no light pollution in those days to obscure the night sky. You would think, then, that even in Jerusalem, people would’ve been talking about this ‘star in the East’. Such events were portends and omens, even to the Jews. And yet it wasn’t until the wise men entered Jerusalem, King Herod and his court – in fact, “all Jerusalem with him”, Matthew’s Gospel says – became troubled.
So why didn’t they notice? It wasn’t as if Judea wasn’t expecting a Messiah. They wanted liberation from Rome, and many men had claimed to be the Savior of the Jews. So had they become jaded? Or were their hearts hardened? Had they – meaning Herod and the elders – become accustomed to the status quo, and thus convinced themselves that the coming Messiah would appear once they had gone the way of all mortal men?
I don’t know the answer to those questions. I do know, though, that very few saw the star. Either the rest were looking down, looking inward, or looking out for themselves. But they weren’t looking up – looking heavenward – looking to God.
For us, 2000 years later, it’s not stars we ought to be following, whether they be celestial or celebrities, but Jesus Christ himself. The star led the wise men to Jesus Christ, and He is the star we are called to follow today. Following Him means following the Truth to wherever it may lead. The wise men were led to a humble home in Bethlehem, where they found the King, and His majesty was revealed to them. For us, following Him will lead us to our majestic home in heaven, where we will be with our King for eternity.
And if others come to us asking, “Where is Jesus, that I may do him homage?”, let us be prepared to show them, without anxiety or worry, but with joy and celebration. He is no longer in the manger, but in His Church, in His people, in the face of the least of these, in our hearts.