Text: Matthew 2, 1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
We have grown too accustomed to hear the story. Today, however, no one has the time to stop and contemplate the stars. It’s not only a matter of time. We belong to an age when it is easier to see the darkness of the night than the bright spots that shine in the midst of any darkness.
It is still touching to remember that old Christian writer who while developing the midrashic story of the Magi, imagined them in the middle of the night, following the small light of a star. The narrative evokes the profound conviction of the first believers after the resurrection. The words of Isaiah were fulfilled in Jesus: “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of darkness and a light has shone on their eyes.”
It would be naïve to think that we are living in specially dark, tragic, and distressing times. Isn’t it this very darkness, frustration, and helplessness we experience at this time, one of the features that almost always accompanies human beings on their journey over the earth?
It is enough to open the pages of history. Undoubtedly, we find times of light in which great achievements are celebrated, great freedoms sought, new worlds glimpsed, new horizons opened for a more humane world. What happens next? Revolutions that create new forms of slavery, achievements that bring new problems, ideals leading to half-baked solutions, noble struggles ending in mediocre compromises. Darkness all over again.
It is not surprising, we are told, that “to be a human being is often a frustrating experience”. But it is not the whole truth. Despite all the failures and frustrations, human beings recover, hope again, and begin to move towards something indeterminate. Something within the human being summons him to life and hope time and again. Always a new star begins to shine once more.
For believers that star unfailingly leads to Christ. A Christian does not believe in any kind of Messianism. So he is not prone to any disappointment. The world is not “a desperate case”. It is not in complete darkness. The world is not only evil and needs to change; the world is reconciled to God and can change. One day, God will be the end of exile and darkness. Total light. Today we see him only in a humble star leading us to Bethlehem.