We truly possess minds capable of peering into the mysteries of creation and our existence, but we’re often too lazy to venture, like the Magi, into this expedition. We gloss over daily events and natural occurrences because we’re so used to experiencing them. For example, we see pregnant mothers all the time but do not take the time to reflect on the variety of motions that complete the human life of each of us. One of the experiences we gloss over too easily is the appearance of the light every morning as the sun rises. Before the approach of dawn, a number of stars can be seen around the sky. Meanwhile, though you can’t yet see the sun, its rays, like orange coronets, can be glimpsed on the eastern horizon. If you keep gazing, you’ll find the stars disappear one after another until only one star appears to remain. Astrophysicists tell us that that’s not an actual star; rather, it is the planet Venus. The sun towers over Venus to reveal the light of day. Hence, Venus is called the Morning Star, which gives way so that the bright light of the sun might illumine the day.
More than 2000 years ago, three wise men—also called Magi or astrologers set out on an expedition in which an unusual star they saw directed them. It’s very puzzling to imagine how they came up with the idea that the star meant anything at all, what more, plucking them away from their homes to follow the star to travel unimaginable distances. Only that there were musings about the birth of some important king. You cannot fail to admire their faith and tenacity. Equally perplexing is the fact that rather than lead them straight to the birthplace of the king, the star led them to Herod’s palace, where it took concerted research and perusal of the scripture by the scribes—at the urging of Herod—to reveal that Bethlehem was definitely the birthplace in quest. Upon leaving the king’s palace the guiding star reappeared and preceded them to the precise location of the birth. The star then disappeared the moment the Magi saw the new king, just as Venus gives way to the sun upon its arrival.
Many natural phenomena lead the human mind to inquire about the mysteries of our existence. Philosophy and science, like the star that led the Magi, awaken the human mind to go in search of these mysteries. But the ultimate truth of our existence cannot be revealed by a mere star or by natural science. Often, science aligns with the powerful of the world, in palaces and studded shelters in search of relevance. Man who is “capax entis” (capable of being) only because he is “capax dei” (capable of God) must recognize that his search for meaning transcends the mere physical and must lead to the door of revelation, as the Magi sought the help of scribes who searched the scriptures to reveal their ultimate destiny. Paradoxically, upon leaving the house of Herod, the star reappeared—revealing that philosophy and theology, science and revelation, faith and reason aid each other and are necessarily married to one another. It was the star, like science that led the wise men to Herod. But scripture, in turn, aided the star to discover its ultimate destination, so that the Magi could arrive Bethlehem. And just as the daylight makes all other small lights and stars fade, the moment the Radiant Sun (Jesus) was revealed, the star disappeared. Jesus is the true star of our life and our terminus (final goal).
The so-called war that science or reason wages against faith is absurd. Reason devoid of its marriage to faith would leave us still in darkness or at best delay in us the rising of the true Morning Sun. Scientific knowledge devoid of its relations to faith would only create anarchy, chaos, bloodshed, and lust for power and possession, which are the bequests of the house of Herod. Modern scientific knowledge divorced from faith and morality has steadily produced human carnage. Such forms of learning are truly foolish which do not lead to Christ, to the crib of Bethlehem where we experience true light. Epiphany or Manifestation is a call to follow the wise counsel of the Magi whose wisdom rested in knowing that they did not know everything. Wise Men Still Seek Jesus!!!
Fr. Jo Chukwudi Okonkwo