attributed to Payag (Indian) The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617) Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604 Cleveland Museum of Art
And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?
Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.
Flight into Egypt France, 17th century polychromed oakwood collection of the Musée L, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14
Imagine how frightened Joseph and Mary were — and how courageous — to leave their homeland in the face of danger and persecution, and to make a new life in a strange country.
My ancestors came to America from Ireland, most of them so poor they traveled in steerage. One side of the family was illiterate. On the other side, my great-great grandmother died soon after arriving in New York and so did the baby twins to whom she had just given birth. Men on both sides of the family took work as laborers and mill workers. They saved what they could from their tiny salaries, bought houses, turned their yards into vegetable gardens, and made sure their children got a good education. Today I live very comfortably, thanks to the courage of my ancestors.
May I always extend a welcome to newcomers. May I be grateful for their example of courage and their reminder of my own family story. May I remember Jesus, too, was a refugee.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Those who have made the trek, followed the star, and encountered the Christ teach me that the power and light of love can never be fully obscured. May their example renew my faith when it is clouded by pain, depression, or grief, and rekindle my hope when it is diminished by disappointment, disillusionment, or discouragement.
Photograph of a Soup Kitchen during the Depression June 1936 National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
There are no subtexts or hidden agendas with Jesus. He spells out exactly how we are to serve him: by taking care of each other, especially those who are poor or in need.
Who can I help today?
[Jesus said to his disciples,] ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34b-35
John S.C. Abbot and Jacob Abbot The Parable of the Talents in the Illustrated New Testament, 1878
Bring a can of food to the food pantry. Stop to say hello to a neighbor. Smile at a stranger. Offer my seat to an elderly person. Listen to a family member. Keep company with someone who is ill or dying. Pray. Thank God for my blessings and burdens.
The small things matter. They teach me to see the people around me. They strengthen me to be with those who are suffering. They add up to this great insight and responsibility: We are all God’s children, here to love one another.
[Jesus told his disciples this parable:] “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.'” Matthew 25:21
I perceive the resplendence of wisdom when I stay aware of and act on opportunities to love my neighbor, forgive those who have hurt me, take responsibility for my words and actions, give food to the hungry, visit the sick and lonely, seek peaceful resolutions to conflict.
I find wisdom in my own loneliness, in my realization of my need for God’s guidance, comfort, and boundless love as I continue to make mistakes on the Way to perfection.
Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her. Wisdom 6:12
Sieger Köder (1925-2015) Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet “The greatest among you must be your servant.” Matthew 23:11
When I am grounded in love and compassion, kindness and patience, hope and humility, I have no need to perform for others to see. I can participate fully in life just as I am—frail, tired, encouraging, interested, sorrowing, accepting.
I have nothing to prove. I am a precious child of God.
[Jesus said,] “All their works are performed to be seen.” Matthew 23:5a