Following Jesus, our true Star

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe of the Epiphany of the Lord, 05 January 2020

Isaiah 60:1-6 ><}}}*> Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 ><}}}*> Matthew 2:1-12

From Google.

A very blessed Merry Christmas to you, my dear reader and follower! As I have been insisting to you since January first, we are still in the Christmas Season as we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

It is the third major celebration of Christmastime after the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) and Mary Mother of God (January 01).

In some parts of the country especially the countrysides, they regard Epiphany in equal standing with Christmas, calling it “Three Kings Sunday” known as “Pasko ng Magsasaka” (Christmas of Farmers).

So, please, do not cut the Christmas Season short and stop greeting others with a happy new year.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:1-3
From Google.

Jesus Christ is our one and only true Star

Epiphany is from the Greek word epiphanes that means revelation or manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the whole world symbolized by the “magi” or wise men from the East.

While there are many sources that confirm to us both in history and tradition that the magi were from Persia (Iran) who have truly paid homage to the Infant Jesus, evidence pointing to the reality of the star of Bethlehem are still scarce but slowly developing.

Though it is still important to establish the factual basis on the existence of the star of Bethlehem, we who believe in Jesus Christ need to focus more on the theology behind this detail from Matthew’s Christmas story which refers to the Lord himself.

We all search for a “star”, something great and noble in life.

It is a given, a gift that every person is capable of rising above one’s self for something lofty and greater than himself/herself.

Too often, we pursue stars that are so common and ordinary – perhaps low and dull ones – like wealth and fame. Eventually we mature that we follow bigger and more luminous stars that are higher and found deeper in space so to speak like wisdom and peace within.

But no matter what we search in life, whatever star we follow, the saints and our faith teach us how we all desire and long only for the one and only true star of all, Jesus Christ.

St. Benedicta dela Cruz (Edith Stein) said that “anyone who seeks the truth eventually finds God” while the great St. Augustine eloquently wrote in his Confessiones, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beautifully said it in one of his books:

“The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward him.”

Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives (page 97)
Old Jerusalem, May 2017. Photo by author.

Lessons of the Magi

Last January first, we reflected how we must make that conscious decision to empty ourselves of our pride to be filled with the Holy Spirit so we can bring Jesus into the world today like Mary the Mother of God.

Today on this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, we are invited to imitate the magi, to be wise men too in continuing the beautiful Christmas story by always seeking, following and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, our only true star in life.

There are three important lessons we can learn from the magi in being truly wise to seek and follow Jesus:

First, welcome darkness and chaos in life. The most life-changing and enriching moments we have are also the most adversarial ones. Remember the “AQ” or adversarial quotient experts are now proposing as true indicators of success in life?

More than success is fulfillment which we desire most when we are in desolation, when we are in the middle of a storm and trial in life, when we are in darkness.

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and the thick clouds cover the peoples; but pon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.

Isaiah 60:1-2

In the gospel, we have heard how “King Herod was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt.2:3) upon hearing from the magi the birth of “the newborn king of the Jews” signified by the star they saw from the East.

Troubles and chaos are great motivators for us to seek better things like meaning in life!

Pilgrims entering through the narrow door of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, May 2019. Photo by author.

Second, dark moments in life are are an invitation to pray more, especially in meditating the Sacred Scriptures, the word of God.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, Herod inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet…

Matthew 2:4-5

The bible is the word of God and when we pray it, it is God himself who speaks to us directly. It is not enough to read and study the Sacred Scriptures like the scribes and chief priests summoned by King Herod.

They knew the book but refused to recognize the Author, God himself.

The scribes and chief priests got it right that the Christ was born in Bethlehem but were not wise enough to join the magi in paying homage to him.

Prayer is a call to communion with God that requires humility and total surrender of self which leads us to lesson number three in following Jesus our true star in life.

From Google.

Third and last but not least lesson from the magi is what are you willing to give in order to follow the Star, Jesus Christ?

The magi from the East were rightly called wise men because they knew very well the most important things in life, the most essential. They did not merely leave the comforts of their home and country to follow the star of Bethlehem.

They were willing to give up so many things just to find Jesus Christ!

This 2020, many of us are having new year’s resolutions, so many plans and dreams and aspirations in life.

It is always good to reach for the stars but we must always keep our feet on the ground as Casey Kasem would always say at the end of his American Top 40 program during the 80’s.

And keeping those feet on the ground is working hard for our dreams with a lot of sacrifices. Keeping feet on the ground is doing all the hard work and avoiding shortcuts.

The magi did not mind going into Jerusalem, asking around amid dangers of suspicions from the powerful, just to find Jesus Christ. Most of all, they have brought gifts with them, precious commodities of that time to signify their sincerity in finding and following Jesus.

How about us today, in this age that is marked with so may people feeling entitled to everything in life?

This early in his Epiphany, Jesus is already showing us the path we have to follow, the way of the Cross, of forgetting one’s self, of setting aside our ego, of letting go and letting God.

Unless we are able to forget our ego, we can never imitate the magi in being wise “to depart for their country by another way” (Mt.2:12) to avoid King Herod.

That is the ultimate indication of being wise, that after finding Wisdom, we change our ways, our lives and live in Jesus Christ, the Holy One. Amen.

Merry Christmas!

From Last line should be “Lift our eyes”, not “Life”.

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