Star of Bethlehem...

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land ~ Jeremiah 33: 14-15

Were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. ~ T. S. Eliot, The Journey of the Magi

Theirs was the Age of Myth; a world where night was not dimmed by the web of lights that now obscures the stars. Their nights were lit by flaring torches, dim oil lamps, guttering candles; by the phases of the moon and the broad shimmering river of the Milky Way.

As the sun declined and night ascended, life withdrew into shuttered and barred homes. Only the very rich or the very poor were abroad in the dark.

The night sky, now so thin and distant, so seldom really seen, was to them as thick and close as a handful of coal studded with diamonds. They could turn it in their mind’s eye even as it turned above them. They reclined on their hillsides, their roofs, or in rooms built for viewing and marking the moon and the stars. They watched it all revolve above them and sang the centuries down.

They remembered the journey.

They kept records and told tales. They saw beings in the heavens — gods and animals, giants and insects, all sparking the origins of myth — and they knew that in some way all was connected to all; as above, so below, ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’. They studied the patterns of it all and from those repeating patterns fashioned our first science, astrology.

Somewhere around 5 B.C. three of the world’s leading astronomers / astrologers noticed something unusual in the sky. It could have been a comet. It could have been a supernova. It could have been a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.

Whatever it was, it was strange enough for them to journey and travel towards it. Or so it is said. Or so it is written. Or so it is remembered from the time of myth.

Our past is a handful of ashes.

It is beyond our gift to ever know the difference between an inspiring folk tale and the eyewitness accounts of something that, even today, would occupy the realm of the miraculous. For today, in the realm of the mysteries, we no longer have any time for the good or the beautiful; we have no time for miracles.

We have only time for denigration.

In his short story, The Star, Arthur C. Clarke’s Jesuit narrator of the far future discovers the remnants of a civilization destroyed by a violent nova so that its light might announce the birth of Christ on Earth. The story has that ironic twist that is popular with authors and pleasing to readers, yet the story doesn’t age well because the science of it, like all science, doesn’t age well; the story was written in 1954, and is now 64 years old.

We all lived in a far smaller universe then, with far fewer stars for God to destroy by way of cosmic birth announcements. Now that the inventory of His stars has increased a billion fold, perhaps we might think it safe to say He could have found one to suit His purpose that didn’t involve destroying a blameless alien race.

After all, He could simply pick one deeper in the field and, well, ramp up the volume. That sort of thing is just an afterthought once you’ve got omnipotence.

In 5 B.C. ‘journey’ and ‘travel’ was not something undertaken lightly.

It involved, across distances that would seem trivial today, risks of life and death at every turn. It required wealth and endurance. Few traveled for pleasure.

To travel at all required a motivation far beyond the ordinary. So, at the very least, while we cannot know what was in the sky in those days, we can be certain it was something very unusual.

To be continued…

In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. ~ Jeremiah 33: 14-15


H/T Gerard Vanderleun and his wonderful ‘Star of Bethlehem’ from 2008 in American Digest

See also Elizabeth Scalia: Incarnation: The Mystery IS the Gift


Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!