Got to feel sorry for poor King Herod who was greatly troubled and all of Jerusalem with him. That’s a lot of people who were troubled. And they had every reason to be. Their lives were about to change. Someone was going to upset their apple cart.
Nobody likes change, especially the ones who are in control. For King Herod change meant that he would no longer be in control. Herod enjoyed being king and did not want to see anyone take his place. All the people who benefitted from Herod’s power did not want to see change either. The Magi who raised the red flag were foreigners. But obviously, they had money. They came with caravans, slaves, camels. The Magi were men of power on a mission. Jerusalem happened to be on their way since they were guided by a star. The Magi were most willing to share the purpose of their mission with King Herod and anybody else who asked. They were looking for the newborn king of the Jews. Since King Herod was a king of the Jews the assumed that he would have some inside information. Rattled, discombobulated, and with shaking legs Herod assembled his chief priests to verify if the story was true. The chief priests told Herod that a new king was going to be born in Bethlehem according to the prophets. Herod became even more fearful. He did what many do when they are afraid—he hid. He met with the Magi in secret so that no one else would listen—to stop the rumor. Behind closed doors Herod gave instructions to the Magi, “Find the child then come and tell me exactly where he is so that I can go and do him homage.” We know what happened.
Meanwhile, the Magi did not lose sight of their goal. They brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. Yet, Jesus gave them more than what they gave to Him. They were not aware at the time and perhaps did not realize until much later the difference the Lord made in their lives. The same miracles happen when we encounter the presence of the Lord and we do not realize the moments of grace until much later—like time alone, reception of a Sacrament, a family reunion—God manifests His presence in countless ways, even in difficulty. God is present in the tragedies, the unpleasant encounters, terminal illnesses. God does not always come the way that we desire. Consider the trust that the Magi had to have shown in order to embark on a trip by the guidance of a star. Their faith reflects the trust that we need in any vocation.
There are no guarantees, only a promise that God is with us. Sometimes we do not feel Him. The voices of doubt ring in our ears—that we are not worthy; that God isn’t listening; that nobody cares. All good things come at a high price. An encounter with God is worth of effort. Be assured that God does not play “hide and go seek” with us. He does not hide. We hide, especially when we are sinning. Yet, the Lord is always available. Often the manifestation of God’s presence is where we least expect. We do not have to be in Church or praying or feeling holy. In the middle of the messiness of our life, God will show Himself to us. But we must trust. There will be people like King Herod who will attempt to get us off track. They will present obstacles on our way to Christ. Our call is to keep our focus on the Lord. Nothing and no one can be more important. Our world is filled with distractions—from the devices in our hands to the programs on television. We are tempted to believe everything we see. We need to discern what will lead us to Christ and what will distract us from Him. The Lord is waiting to receive us with open arms. We come as we are—with our faults, limitations and problems.
The star of Faith has led us to the Blessed Sacrament. There can be no grater manifestation of the Lord’s presence.