Matthew 2: 1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East.
They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signalled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified – and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd- rule my people, my Israel.”
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
For Matthew, a Jew writing for Jews, the Magi illustrate an opening up of God’s message to the world. The Messiah was meant for the people of Israel, yet here it is the stranger who seeks him out and adores him. This is where we fit in, wherever we come from, whoever we are, we belong to this story. We are all chosen people.
And whether they were kings or traders it doesn’t matter; they were wealthy; they had knowledge; they understood power; understood what a king was. Yet something not logical, not explainable, not visible allowed them to kneel in straw and animal dung in homage to two homeless peasants and their dishevelled child. The star, that is the revealing of God’s presence in a human baby, shone in their eyes and their hearts and they believed. They believed with the faith that looked into the mundane and saw God.
God is in the everyday and the everywhere. The Lord is present – without limit, without protocol, human and divine. As each of us is human and divine, for the presence of God is a light within each of us. A guiding light that leads to the Kingdom.
All we need is to pay attention and then to have the faith and the confidence to cross deserts, expect the unexpected, to make the journey, to follow the Star.