This reflection is based on Matthew 2:1-12 on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord.
Today we have the heartwarming story of the magi who traveled far to visit the Christ Child. They had waited long to see the long-foretold King of the Jews. For years they scanned the night sky in search of the sign–that one star that would signal the birth of the savior. And the moment it appeared, they left their homes immediately in chase of that star.
I’ve often heard this story before, but reading the Gospel story this time, I was struck by two details I had never noticed before. First, the star of Bethlehem did not shine brightly or consistently enough for the magi to locate the child without difficulty. The star rose from the horizon to get the magi to start their journey, but it apparently disappeared from sight sometime during the journey. Why else would the magi ask around about the child in Jerusalem, as we are told in this passage?
Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
The star’s disappearance tells us that the magi’s journey was not as easy and as problem-free as we have been accustomed to think. It’s not as if the star functioned like some trusty celestial GPS that guided the magi every step of the way. In other words, the magi had to be resourceful and do some research on their own to find the newborn king.
These strangers’ questions in Jerusalem were, in fact, how King Herod heard about them and their disturbing mission. The jealous king immediately summoned them to his palace and feigning a similar interest convinced them to share with him whatever information they might find about the Child.
After their audience with Herod, they were overjoyed to see that the Star of Bethlehem had reappeared, which finally led them to the Holy Child. This brings me to a second, often unnoticed, detail in the story: The Star reappeared despite the looming danger of Herod’s wrath. I think a different God would have immediately extinguished that star as any father would quickly remove any danger to his child. I would. I mean, the visiting magi and their gifts would be a nice-to-have, but there’s certainly no need to put the entire plan of salvation in jeopardy just to come up with a nice Christmas tableau.
But not our God. This One wants us to find His Son whatever risks and dangers this might pose to His plans–or even His Son.
I think these two seemingly insignificant details teach us a couple of lessons about following stars. Lesson no. 1 has to do with adjusting our expectations. When we follow our stars, we shouldn’t expect them to function like our personal GPS. Their purpose is to convince us to leave our comfort zones, not to show us how to get there wherever it is we’re meant to go. Our stars will disappear. Eclipses will occur. Stars will go into hiding. Like the wise men, we need to learn to search in the dark. We need to find our way because that is the only way to make our journey. This probably means that perhaps losing our way is an essential part of the journey. And most importantly, we need to refuse to give up just because the searching isn’t always easy.
Secondly, we can be sure that God is determined to find us, no matter what it takes or what it costs, to meet us where we are, wherever we may have strayed in our journey, and to offer us His grace just at that moment when we need it most. We need only to remain relentless in our star-chasing, searching for Jesus, even if all we bear is our meager but eager hearts.
7 replies on “LESSONS ABOUT CHASING STARS”
Thank you for this very inspiring homily. Happy new year!
True that FJ! As they say, there is death in the comfort zone. Cheers to a great 2015 – may we all venture out of our comfort zones and find our true intersection, the point where He calls us to.
Thank you. Happy new year, Fr. J!
I guess God is also trying to see how persistent we can be with our faith. There are times when we don’t feel His presence in our lives but He is there quietly watching over us, waiting for us to continue our search for Him and remain faithful in our love for Him.
happy new year, fr.johnny! hope all is well with you. as always, your sermon today hits right to the very core. it is so fitting for the new year and something to ponder all throughout the year. thank you!
Thanks, Fr. Johny for putting things in perspective. Your homily greatly resonates with me. I have been discerning about making a huge decision about my career. When I read your homily this morning, I felt that the fog of doubt has been lifted and sensed that I have found the peace that I am looking for to enable me to make the decision.
Indeed, your website is provides “Pins of Light.”
Happy New Year Fr. J. This hits home. I left some comfort zones and trying to place God in the center of our family life. Am fearful, anxious but I feel ALIVE knowing He will be there. Thank you for helping me discipline my heart and mind that many others before us never had it easy following the Lord, but He is always faithful and generous beyond belief. God bless all the works of your hands and your intentions.