I adore the stars. Radiant beams punctuating the black canvas of night. It blows me away to think that these very same stars were gazed upon by generations who went before us. Sometimes standing in my backyard, I wonder who else stood on this very spot of ground, peered into the dark sky and contemplated the vastness of Creation.
On Epiphany, celebrated this year on Jan. 3 (Jan. 6 is the 12th day of Christmas but the bishops decided we should observe Epiphany on the Sunday preceding it), the Church marks the day that the Star of Bethlehem led the Magi to Christ.
Theologians and astrologers alike have long debated whether the celestial appearance was a miracle or a myth. But since it graces the pages of Matthew’s Gospel, I’m quite sure it is divinely consequential. And I challenge you to find a Nativity scene that does not have some depiction of this great illumination.
All of the stars that make up the night sky are intriguing to me. So what do I love about this certain star that led the Wise Men to Jesus? It teaches me about the kind of person I want to be. I want to be a star!
- The star was a natural occurrence used to accomplish the supernatural. Fashioned from natural elements, hanging out in the universe with many other stars, God chose this one to light the way for the Wise Men. Similarly, God chooses each one of us for our own supernatural purposes on earth. I want to be a star!
- The star was silent but had a lot to say. Oh, how often in my life I wish I had stayed silent, had not said the wrong thing, had kept my thoughts to myself, could take back hurtful words. Recently, my mother-in-law passed away, and one thing she taught me was that you can say a lot by the life you live without ever saying a word. Like the star, she was a gentle but mighty witness, quietly but boldly lighting the way, urging others to seek the Lord. I want to be a star!
- The star remained with them, even though not always visible. In Matthew’s Gospel, the star seems to disappear when the Magi encounter King Herod. And just as quickly as it seems to vanish out of sight, it makes its presence known again. How often does it seem like God is out of my line of vision? Or is it that I’m not looking? What is distracting me from seeing God’s brightness? Conversely, who needs me to shine with the light of Christ to be a beacon for them in the darkness? I want to be a star!
- The star was a gentle guiding light. This powerful flaming gas didn’t jump out of the sky and force the Magi down the road to Bethlehem. It just shined the light on their path. It was there ready and waiting to lead people to Jesus. What do I need to do to prepare myself to be a missionary disciple? I know I need to spend more time reading and studying my Bible, enhancing my prayer life and learning how to accompany those in this life so we can walk together in eternal life. I want to be a star!
- The star blazes a trail to overwhelming joy. The Wise Men rejoiced greatly when they saw the star again. They knew it was leading to something good, something important, something holy. They knew it was a long trip, but they knew it would be worth it. When the star finally stopped, it rested on the King, our eternal source of overwhelming joy. I want to be a star!
2020 was a tough year for many of us. Like the Magi, we know the route isn’t easy, the path isn’t always straight. In this new year, we can opt to admire the star from a distance or we can decide to make the trek despite the difficulties we will surely face. We can choose to be a star, a light for others who might not see the way, and we can all fix our gaze on where we hope to end up, basking in the dazzling glory of Christ the King.
Kristi Anderson is the associate editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic.