The Dark Side of the Star.
Following the magnificent star, astrologers from a faraway land travel many miles in search of a newborn king of the Jews. The star leads them to Bethlehem where they find the child and his parents. They humbly present the child with gifts worthy of a king – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
But there is a dark side of the story. Herod perceives a serious threat to his rule in the traveler’s news of the birth of a rival king. He tries to dupe them in order to locate the child and then kill him. When the astrologers deceive Herod, and depart by another route, Herod orders the massacre of every boy under the age of two in the region of Bethlehem in order to put an end to this would be adversary.
What kind of demented tyrant could be so threatened by a child? But Herod has much to fear from this Jesus.
And so do we.
The child born in poverty in a backwater village has come to tear down the paper mansions of the self-possessed rich and powerful and, in their place, exalt the lasting things of God.
The newborn Messiah, recognized by rustic shepherds and mystical strangers but rejected by his own people, comes to destroy forever the walls we have erected to divide classes and tribes, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, young and old, believers and unbelievers.
The future rabbi, a carpenter’s son, comes to establish a church, not made of brick and mortar, but founded on the Spirit of God and built in human hearts.
Christ does not remain in the manger forever. He goes forth to do his Father’s work.
And that threatens the Herod in all of us.
When the magi return to their homeland and the star sets in the heavens, the real gospel story is only beginning. The child Jesus becomes the adult Messiah; the beautiful story of his birth becomes the unsettling story of humble service, unconditional forgiveness, and unlimited compassion. A proclamation that all men and women are brothers and sisters under the providence of God, the Father of us all.
The Epiphany of Christ, which we will celebrate this Sunday, invites us to travel with him in the liturgical year ahead to witness his healings and wonders, to listen with open hearts to the words of compassion and forgiveness he preaches, and to enter the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection until our own rebirth in the dwelling place of God.
If you are in the area around Saint John Bosco Parish in Parma Heights – I invite you to join us this Sunday, January 8 at 2:00 pm in the Church for an hour of Christmas Music with our Music Ministry and Choir, followed by a Christmas cookie social in the Bell Tower. We’d love to have you enjoy the music of the Christmas Season with us! After all, the Christmas Season doesn’t end until Monday, January 9th – with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.