1/43.1 Firmness in faith. Overcoming human respect, comfort, attachment to worldly goods, to seek Our Lord.
Jesus was born at Bethlehem in Judaea, in the days of King Herod. And thereupon certain wise men came out of the East to Jerusalem. They had seen a star and by a certain grace from God they knew that it heralded the birth of the Messiah whom the people of Israel were expecting.
The occupation of these wise men – that of studying the stars – was the circumstance used by God to make them see His will. God called them by what was most familiar to them and showed them a great, marvellous star, so that it would attract their attention by its very greatness and beauty. How did they come to know exactly what it meant? We don’t know, but they knew and set off. Undoubtedly they received a very extraordinary inspiration from God, who wanted them to be present in Bethlehem, as Isaiah had announced: Lift up thine eyes and look about thee ..., sons of thine, daughters of thine, come from far away. They would be the first of those who would come later, throughout all times, from all parts. And they were faithful to this grace.
They left behind their families, their comfort, their goods. It could not have been easy for them to explain the reason for their journey. Probably without talking about it too much, they took the best that they had, to carry with them as an offering, and set off on their way to adore God.
The journey must have been very long and difficult, but they persevered on their way. These men, determined and with none of what we might call worldly respect, teach us what we have to do to reach Jesus – leave aside everything that can lure us from the way or hold us up on our journey. Sometimes we can be held up – in what refers to following Jesus closely, lovingly – by the fear of what people will say, the fear that our way of acting may be considered extreme in some way or another. You see that these men, who fill our homely feast with joy, give us a lesson in bravery. It is a lesson not to pay attention to human respect, which paralyses many who could already be close to Christ, living with Him.
We too have seen the star in the depth of our heart, inviting us to be detached from the things that tie us down, and to overcome any human respect which prevents us from reaching Jesus. Look how gently the Lord invites us. His words have human warmth; they are the words of a person in love: ‘I have called you by your name, you are mine’ (Is 43:1). God, Who is Greatness and Beauty and Wisdom, declares that we are his, that we have been chosen as the object of his infinite Love. We need a strong life of faith to appreciate the wonder his Providence has entrusted to us. It will be a faith like that of the Magi, a conviction that neither the desert, nor the storms, nor the quiet of the oases will keep us from reaching our destination – the eternal Bethlehem, our definitive life with God.
Of all those who contemplated the star, only these Wise Men of the East discovered its deep meaning. Only they understood what for others was only an unusual spectacle in the sky. It is possible that others too received the same special grace from God but did not correspond to it. What a great tragedy for them!
With the Church, let us ask God Our Father: O God Who enlightened the Wise Men from the East and set them on the way to adore Your Son, enlighten our faith and accept the offering of our prayers.