Most folk know the first verse of Home on the Range, probably from all those years of Kansas studies in school, but many can’t sing the fourth stanza of the state song, the one about the stars.
How often at night when the heavens are bright,
With the light from the glittering stars,
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceeds that of ours.
In the West, especially if one stands far from street lights, bright stars are an almost nightly promise. So beautiful and so distant, yet their constancy guides us. Often we don’t see them because of clouds or city lights, and, sometimes, life itself lowers our eyes. Yet the stars remain, silent and resplendent.
Stars are an apt image of God in our lives. Sublime surety embraces the horizon, filling the vault of heaven with light. But what ones see in the heavens depends upon one’s stance on earth.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage” (Mt 2: 1-2).
The story of the Magi is read from the template of the resurrection. The astonishing reorders the entire world, but only for eyes ready to see. For Saint Matthew, even those outside the law, such as the Magi, can be given the grace to see the Christ. Yet one can also be in the right place, at the proper time, and fail to see the Glory of the Lord. Insight is grace. Grace is insight.
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Mt 3: 1-2).
And so it must be. The glory of God shines into the world, but it does not overwhelm, does not bare down like the sun, lest human freedom wither in the heat. Unlike the rest of the world, the soul grows in starlight, when in darkness it looks heavenward to find the light.
Isaiah 60: 1-6 Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6 Matthew 2: 1-12