Stars And Magi

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For as long as man has been on earth, he has always been looking up to the stars in awe, with wonder and with inspiration, for meaning and for guidance. Just as the Magi searched the skies for their star, astrophysicists today still scan the heavens to learn from the stars how and why things are on earth. Stars tell us how and where we came from, and how and where we will eventually become. The most inspiring of what these scientists have learned is that we are literally made of stardust.

The Magi and their star might have been myth or legend. They may have been ordinary visitors. Or, they may not even have existed at all. But their story is full of meaning and wisdom for me. God speaks to us through the things He has created for us. Anything and everything has the potential to reveal to us the God who created us all. He does not always show Himself in the magnificent and explosive outbursts as in the first bang. He sometimes come in very ordinary things. In fact, it is only in the darkness of night that we can see the beauty and splendor of the stars.

Only in the darkness of the night shall we see the stars light.
Only on an empty sky can we see the birds soar and fly.

And if we watch and are attentive, the stars have a lot to tell us about God. Just as the Magi in the past knew. And the astrophysicists of today are learning. In the stillness as in the night or in the emptiness as in the sky, can we encounter Him who made the stars and the skies.

I look at the gifts of the Magi and I learn a few things about life. They brought the baby born in the manger gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is wealth, treasure, abundance. Whatever I have of value I offer to God in thanksgiving. Wealth is not only the money and possessions one has. My health is wealth. And so is knowledge, and community and family. The best way to preserve such golden possessions is to offer them back to their source.

Frankincense is burnt for the sweet smoke it produces. The smoke is redolent with delightful fragrance; it looks like a spirit wafting up to the heavens; it reminds us of the numinous. It tells us there are things we cannot touch nor hold but are as real as the physical things around us. Through sight and smell, we know there is incense present. And such is the experience of the Divine Presence in our lives.

Myrrh is traditionally used as an anointing oil in preparing the deceased for burial. It reminds as of the fragility and finiteness of life on earth. Our lives on earth eventually comes to an end. But as the fragrant aroma of the oil lingers, it intimates to us that life is not totally taken away but rather transformed and transported up to a higher level. We go back to where we came from.

The baby in the manger, helpless and vulnerable. The Magi from the East, learned and searching. God, beyond the senses and the physical, speaking and moving. I, sometimes lost, sometimes bewildered, always alert and eager to listen. The stars and the skies will always speak to me even when I am in darkness or feeling empty.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
~ Psalm 72
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.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1-12
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