January 6, 2009
Chasing the Star
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Matthew 2:1-12 “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage”
January 4, 2009
One day, a monk asks another monk, “Why, all of a sudden, so many monks are leaving the monastery?” The other monk answered, “It is just like a pack of dogs chasing a rabbit. One dog catches sight of the rabbit and starts to chase it through the fields, barking and running all the way. And soon, all the other dogs join because they just see and hear the first dog chasing the rabbit. And so the whole pack goes off across the countryside in pursuit of the rabbit. But only one of the dogs has really seen the rabbit. After a while the other dogs get tired and one by one they drop out, because they do not really see the rabbit. And only one dog continues the pursuit, because only he has seen – and understood – what he is chasing.
As we begin the year, we start running again from all over. Its cramming time! Some are reviewing for school exams. Some are preparing themselves for a Herculean job of finishing tons of paper works left undone during the Christmas Season. We have started removing Christmas decors. And the heavy traffic in Manila is back. Slowly we are returning back to our normal busy life.
But before we plunge into our usual “de more” (daily routine), it is good to stop for a while and ask ourselves, “What do I really want to chase this year?” Returning to our ordinary routine after Christmas is very tiring; and to some, it is very depressing. Sometimes we literally drag our feet to return to school or office. But this moment is much more depressing if you do not know what you want for yourself and your family this year. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What is my innermost desire this year?”
The Magi in our gospel know what they want. They know how to read the movement of stars and its meaning. They know that the Bethlehem star will lead them to the newly born saviour. They can see something beyond the star. They are inwardly attracted to chase the star. They know what they are chasing. Their eyes of faith allowed them to see what they are after, they want to give homage to the King of Kings. This burning desire gives them direction and meaning in life.
On the other hand, Herod and the citizens of Jerusalem are greatly troubled when the Magi came and said, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” Unlike the Magi, Herod is not that eager to leave the palace. Chasing the star does not excite him for he failed to see the saviour the star represents. He is so engrossed with his own needs and concern. The best thing he can offer to the Magi is to say, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me the word, that I too may go and him homage.” And so, Herod stayed at the palace. And only the three Magi continue the pursuit, because only them have seen – and understood – what they are chasing.
Today, as we begin the New Year, let us ask ourselves: Am I like Herod or the Magus? What is the “star” (desire) I am chasing at this moment? When I asked some of my friends what do they want to achieve this New Year, most of them were caught flat-footed and said, “Father, ang hirap naman ng tanong mo.” But I said I am serious with my question. And their next texts were quite revealing for them and for me: Be able to love my husband with the Lord’s heart, that papa gets out of depression, that my daughter meet someone special to be lifetime partner, that everything will be okay in my life, peace on earth, serenity at every sunrise, less anxiety and depression, sana mabayaran na namin ang utang naming, to get married and have kids, spiritual groundedness, a child, new house, physical healing of a family member, trip abroad, and others. These things are our stars. We desire these things and we should aggressively chase them this year. Our different stars mean a lot for us; but let’s not forget that they are only pointers to our real and innermost desire - God himself. St. Augustine realized it, “My heart is restless until it rest on Thee.” Let’s chase God by diligently chasing our stars.
The star of Bethlehem had helped the Magi in finding Jesus. They were mesmerized by the beauty of the star and followed it; but they know the star is not everything. They chased the star and led them to their real desire: to worship Jesus.
We have lots of stars in our life: a dream house, a plan to study, change of work, reconciliation in the family, a trip to USA, and others. Our “stars” give us direction, focus, and motivation to move on, go to the next level, and persevere. But we should be like the Magi who are wise enough to see what they are really chasing. We chase our stars in the hope that it will lead us see God and worship Him.
A friend of mine texted me this morning: “AFTER ALL THOSE CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR CELEBRATION, WE SHOULD STOP FOR A WHILE AND ASK OURSELVES … ANO NA KAYA ANG TIMBANG KO NGAYON?”
I smiled and texted her back with my revised version: AFTER ALL THOSE CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR CELEBRATION, WE SHOULD STOP FOR A WHILE AND ASK OURSELVES … ANO NGA BA TALAGA ANG GUSTO KO SA BUHAY?”
Find your own star and let the chase begin !
Fr. Wilfredo M. Samson, SJ
Ateneo de Zamboanga University
January 4, 2009