“We Saw His Star At Its Rising And Have Come To Do Him Homage”
The three wise men, or three magi, or as popularly well known three kings, led by the star, came to Jerusalem looking for the New Born King.
However, the star suddenly disappeared when they entered King Herod’s palace. It was not until they left the royal dwelling that the heavenly light came out and brought them to Bethlehem where they saw the very maker of the star and did Him homage.
Now, three big questions rise in my mind and perhaps in yours, too. First, what does the star stand for? Second, why did the star cease shining upon reaching Jerusalem? And third, what message can we who listen to the Gospel story today receive for our own journey looking for Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of our life?
Let us begin with the first question: what does the star stand for? As popularly thought, each person was born with a star sign that will affect their future. Great and famous people, therefore, have special stars brighter and more attractive. No longer astrologically speaking, the star is, as symbol of a person’s calling or mission, shedding certain light beyond its natural capacity. It identifies itself with the very person who bears its sign. So the star that appeared to the three wise men and led them to the New Born King is nothing other than Jesus Christ Himself Who is the Light of the world, “Light from Light” as stated by the I Council of Nicea in 325, and Who leads all peoples out of the darkness of sin and death to the heavenly Father, Source of life, peace and love.
As for the second question on the reason why the star stopped its light when the three Magi reached Jerusalem and entered King Herod’s palace, we can find the answer based on the explanation of the first question. Indead, the star of the Lord and Savior of the world never ceases sending its unending and unfading splendor to all peoples and nations in order that they may see Him and come to Him, the very way the sun keeps shining on the earth and other planets. However, the light of the sun cannot reach somewhere or someone because something or someone prevents it from doing so. So also does the light of salvation brought to the world by Jesus Christ: it is always shining brightly upon all peoples and nations, night and day, twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. However, that light leading people to the truth, the life everlasting and everhappy could be shut off from the sight of those who refuse to see it because they hate it, as written in John, Chapter 3, verse 20:
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light so that his works might not be exposed.
Finally, we go to the third question on what message we can receive from the right understanding of the star mentioned in the Gospel story of the Three Kings.
The star of wonder that appeared on Christmas Day, the first coming of Jesus Christ in the human nature, keeps shedding its light of salvation upon our world and humanity.
But how can the light of a good conscience be seen in a heart filled with evil thoughts?
How can the light of sensitivity, compassion, love and forgiveness be seen in a life severely polluted with selfishness, hatred, personal interest and thirst for power?
How can the light of justice, truth and peace be seen by people who, in their lives both as individuals and communities, deliberately leave no room to Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the World?
Only when they do their best to stand up and get out of the slavery to the forces of evil can their eyes open and see the star of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.