Sunday, January 4, 2015

Following the Star: Feast of Ephiphany

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. (Matt. 2:11)


As the Magi followed the star leading them to their life's work of searching for the truth, we can reflect on the relationship of the light of the star, grace and seeking the truth.  According to some of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the manifestation of the star has many meanings.

Saint Augustine writes:
"It was not one of those stars which since the beginning of creation observe the course appointed to them by the Creator; but this star was a stranger to the heavens, and made its appearance at the strange sight of a virgin in childbirth."

Saint John Chrysostom adds:
"The star does not seem fitting to a star but of some power endowed with reason. Consequently it seems that this was some invisible force made visible under the form of a star."

Pope Leo the Great also writes:
"A star of unusual brightness appeared to the three Magi in the east, which, though being more brilliant and more beautiful than the other stars, drew men’ gaze and attention: so that they understood at once that such an unwonted event could not be devoid of purpose."

And Erasmo Merikakis (author of biblical commentary)  writes the following:

"This moving star, this dynamic light, is a source of profound joy to the Magi, the long-awaited reward of a life of patient and humble search within a religion and a culture alien to the revelation received by Israel. But what is light to the seekers of the truth is also condemnation, a source of danger and exposure, to those who deal in darkness. Did the Magi not see the star again just outside Herod’s palace? What kept Herod from seeing it himself? Did he have to do more than step out onto one of his rooftop terraces, where he would have had the whole night sky of Palestine at his disposal? Herod was a prisoner in the airless sky of his own mind, where no stars can shine because the skull is too hard, impermeable to the light, the true Platonic cave. When the Magi saw the star, they were indeed looking at a manifest sign provided by grace; but they were also looking at the light of their own faith objectified in the airborne brightness, suspended in the night of the world. To find something that is given, one must first be looking for it. To understand an answer, one must first have asked the question, otherwise the explanation will sound like a foreign tongue, or like empty silence."

Grace is sufficient to see goodness and to find Christ everywhere.  It will penetrate the darkness of our weakness and sinfulness.  During this season of Christ's manifestation, what is it that I seek.  Is it the light of truth found in this Infant Babe come among us?  Will I let Him flood my life and soul with His grace, that He be the reason for my very life?