Have you ever stood somewhere at night where it was perfectly dark all around you? You looked up into the sky and your jaw dropped in amazement at the wonder of trillions of stars in the heavens above.
Throughout sacred scripture the nighttime sky is God’s billboard to deliver a message of hope and a promise of help no matter what. Abraham looked up and saw the stars descending. Noah looked up and saw the rainbow. Jacob looked up and saw a ladder. The shepherds looked up and saw the angels.
On today’s Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate the Magi looking up and seeing a bright star of a comet that led them to the stable and to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). The ancient world relied heavily on the stars as a map for their journey. You had to know when and where the stars would rise and set as well as the constellations. Yet following the stars did not mean that the trip would be smooth and direct. It was not like having a GPS.
The Wise Men following the star makes for a beautiful story, but for them it was a challenge. To go and find Jesus required careful thought and reflection. There were and are Herods along the way to keep the Wise Men and us from finding Jesus. We all have our Herods within us and around us that get in our way of finding Jesus – our addictions, our busy schedules, our tempers and our temptations.
The star is an important symbol for us. Being a Christian is all about being led. It’s about following to where God is leading us. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus ever say, “I will follow you!” He says again and again, “Follow me!” The star reminds us that being a disciple of Jesus means FOLLOWING, even if there are Herods who want to distract us and block our way.
We are told in the Gospel that the Wise Men went home by another way. They did it to avoid Herod. I always wonder about that other route home. Was it quicker? Did it take them to some new places? Or did it seem like an endless detour? The story is telling us that once you have really and truly found Jesus in your heart, you can’t go back to your old life again.
Have YOU found Jesus in YOUR heart this Christmas? Or was it the same-old, same-old kind of Christmas for YOU?
MY HOPE IS NOT IN THE NEW YEAR…..BUT IN THE GOD WHO MAKES ALL THINGS NEW!