Almost every year at Christmastime, you can find a newspaper article or TV documentary about the star of Bethlehem. Astronomers give various theories about whether the magi saw a new star, perhaps a supernova, or a comet, or a conjunction of two or more planets. Since the magi are generally believed to be astrologers, the conjunction seems most likely.
More important is the meaning of the star. In Matthew’s Gospel, light is used as a symbol of the good news of Jesus coming into the world. Jesus is the light of the world, so the magi follow that light to get to Jesus. That’s why verse 9 of the Gospel has the image of the star preceding the wise men and stopping over the house where Jesus was. By following the star, they become followers of Christ. So what do the magi show us about following Jesus?
First, they take the initiative. They saw the star, figured out what it meant, and made their journey. As followers of Jesus, we can look for what needs to be done (in our family, parish, or community) and do it. We don’t have to wait for the pastor to call us and beg for help.
Second, they expressed their faith in Jesus by the gifts they brought: gold – a gift for a king, who is worthy to be followed; frankincense – Jesus is worthy to be worshiped as Son of God; and myrrh – Jesus becomes king by dying for us all. We can express our faith in many ways. We can volunteer to help the poor, the elderly, or the disabled. We can teach our children how to pray and tell them about all that God has done for us.
Third, they were not afraid to take risks for Jesus. When theywent back home without telling Herod where they found the child, Herod was furious (Matthew 2:16). For all they knew, he couldhave come after them. How often do we take risks for the Lord, byopenly speaking about our faith or giving God credit for the goodthat we do? Let the star of Bethlehem remind us that Jesus is thestar of our lives. Tom Schmidt