A star for our guide

Al Cariño, OMI
Editor: Mindanao Cross
Reproduced with Permission

Epiphany


The season of Christmas ends with the Feast of the Epiphany. The ancient Greeks used the word to describe the manifestation of a god among human beings. The Greek Fathers used it for God's self–manifestation in Jesus Christ through the Incarnation. It also means the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, as shown by Matthew in his account of the journey of the Magi (Mt. 2:1–12).

The Magi were astrologers, people who observed the heavens and interpreted heavenly signs. They were regarded as wise men. While they were observing the heavens one night, they saw a new and bright star. It was a portent of great events. They followed it.

Let us accompany them as they made their journey of faith and learn some lessons from them.

The Magi were now in Jerusalem. But the star was gone. Lost, they asked people around, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." They knew what the star represented — "the newborn king of the Jews." They asked questions so they could be on their way again. Wise people ask questions in order to learn, to understand. Only non–thinking people have no questions.

We have our own star — our faith. It is our guide as we make our life–long journey to the Father. With it burning in our hearts, we live in hope. But when it is gone, we begin to question, to doubt. We thus ask, "Was this star — this faith — a mirage, a 'pie in the sky?'" This phase in our life may be call from God for deeper prayer and discernment. He may answer our prayers there and then or He may inspire us to ask the right persons.

"When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." The Word brought about restlessness: it disturbed the whole city. It also troubled King Herod. Naturally. Herod became king by winning the favor of the Romans and retained his position through intrigue. Because intrigue could also be used by other people, he was always on the watch for plots against him. Now, he considered "the newborn king of the Jews" as a threat to his throne. He never had peace of mind. Does our faith allow us to live with internal peace despite the intrigues against us and the problems we encounter?

To answer the Magi's question, Herod assembled all the chief priests and the scribes. Their answer: "In Bethlehem of Judea" as was written in the Prophets. The Scriptures are so forceful that they resound even from the dead hearts of the scribes! They had rendered a good service to the Magi. But they did not set out with them because even though they knew, they did not believe. Even faithless and ruthless people can help us find the King.

"Herod sent them to Bethlehem." The Magi would not stop until they accomplished their mission — "to do him homage." So they resumed their difficult journey. What we get for nothing is worth nothing.

"The star... preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was." Their perseverance was rewarded. God gives each of us a mission and He will not abandon us. Our star — our faith — will be there to guide us, if we persevere in our pursuit.

"On entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." They were full of joy at finding "the newborn king." But the faithless priests and scribes were not there to share their joy. Are we among them?

The Magi did not prostrate themselves before Mary. This could be done only to Jesus. But she received the gifts meant for her Son. Like the Magi, we also know whom to worship. And like the Magi, in meeting Jesus, we may also meet Mary — the one who had fully participated in her Son's mission. Or we may meet Jesus through Mary. Regardless, when we meet Jesus, we can have the same the Magi experienced. Are we joyful Christians regardless of what comes our way? If we are not, our faith may need a reality check.

Mary was always present at the important events of Jesus' life. She was there at the start of His ministry. She was there at His passion. She was there during His triumph on the cross. Mary is presented to us as the mother and model of all believers. Her greatness lies in her fidelity to her mission. Mary can help us find and be faithful to the mission her Son has for us.

"Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way." If we have met Jesus, we cannot live the way we did before. Does meeting Jesus bring about a change of heart in us and make us abandon our selfish ways?

Like the Magi, we, too, are in a journey of faith — "to do him homage." There is Jesus' star to light our way. Do we persevere in our quest till we find Him? Or rather, till we allow Him to find us?

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