Windows of Salvation – The Star of Bethlehem
You might have heard recently that we had the “Super Blood Wolf Moon,” and I don’t know who names these gifts, but what a name! Apparently, the “wolf” part refers to the first full moon of the calendar year, when the wolves are howling most, I guess. And the “blood” part refers to the reddish color of the moon during the total lunar eclipse. I didn’t get a chance to see it because 1) it was cloudy, 2) it was freezing outside, and 3) I was worried about werewolves or something coming after me! The pictures I saw were very foreboding, like they symbolized something sinister at work. People have been looked at the skies for omens and signs for centuries, thinking that they somehow reflect the supernatural at work.
Of course, we have an example of that in the Christmas story too, which is reflected in our window today in the Star of Bethlehem. We’re told in the Gospel of Matthew that the Magi saw the star and reported their viewing of the star to Herod, trying to determine what the star meant. And after investigating, “the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.”
So what’s the story with the star? Was it merely a symbol, or is it supported by scientific evidence? Some theories suggest that the star was the appearance of Halley’s Comet, which would have occurred in that period around 10 BC. Another theory was that the star was a conjunction of planets to cause a brilliant light in the night sky. The famous astronomer Johannes Kepler calculated that one such occurrence may have taken place around the time of Christ’s birth. A very interesting theory from modern astronomer Roger Sinnott proposed a triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter, Venus, and the star Regulus, which, based on evidence from historical astronomical records, may have climaxed around December 25, 2 BC! Egyptian and Chinese astronomers also attest to a brilliant star showing around the same time.
Of course, we’ll never really know what it was that the Magi saw, but we know its purpose – it led them to Christ. As we reflect on the image of that star, we recognize that we are likewise called to lead others to Christ by being lights in the world. Sometimes that happens purely by example and the witness of lives faithful to Christ and his teaching, but sometimes we need to take the bold step to actually invite others to come to Mass, to pray with us, to talk about their faith. May God give us the grace to be a brilliant light to others, just as the Star of Bethlehem was for the Magi.
O God, how grateful we are to you for Jesus, our Messiah. Give us the wisdom and courage to accept Jesus as Savior of the world, and lead others to him.