What will be my wishes for this new year? May it be a year of grace again. That is to say, a year in which we experience God's love in a special way, as the Magi came to the crib.
Through the star, God led the Magi to the child. Through a dream, he warned them. He called them, led them, guarded them, warned them: how much love for them! We too can believe that God loves us in this way. We can remember how he did it during this last year. We can renew our trust that he will continue to do so in the year ahead.
It is a love that is both strong and tender, infinite and personal, all-powerful and fragile. It is manifested in that star that leads the Magi. An astonishing star: it moves forward and stops. It is determined by a power that is not in it. The entry of the Son of God into the world introduces into the universe a force that is greater than the universe. John Chrysostom writes on this subject: "When the star came above the child, it stopped, and this could only be because of a power that the stars do not have: that is, first to hide, then to appear again, and finally to stop” (Homily on the Gospel of Matthew, 7:3).
The love that moves...is the risen Christ
In the last verse of the Divine Comedy, Dante defines God as "l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle", the love that moves the sun and the other stars (Paradise, xxxiii, 145). This means that the stars, the planets, the whole universe are not governed by a blind force, but by a personal will, the Spirit of God, who in Christ revealed himself as Love. This love is the golden thread that links all parts of creation together.
How different this is from astrology, which puts us in the presence of impersonal and soulless astronomical forces. We are neither determined nor prisoners of destiny, but free, capable of responding to God's creative freedom (cf. Col 2:8). It is not an anonymous motor that makes the stars turn, organizes the immense universe and governs all things, but a personal God, who has revealed himself as Father, Spouse, Friend, Brother. He has united himself to our mortal flesh once and for all and has fully shared our condition, manifesting the superabundant power of his grace.
We can go even further, thanks to Christ. The Love that moves the Star of the Magi, the Galaxies and animates all things here below, even the dead leaf that falls from the tree, is the incarnate Christ who lived among us in humility, who died on a cross and rose again. With the resurrection from the dead, he obtained "in all things primacy" (Col 1:18). Jesus also affirms this by appearing to the disciples after the resurrection: "All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth" (Mt 28:18). The resurrected Jesus is the powerful love that animates everything, sustains everything and directs everything towards the recapitulation of all things. And he lives among us! In our midst is "the love that moves the sun and the other stars"!
The Magi met this God personally; it is the experience that we can make one day and which becomes the axis of our life. For some, it may have been a dazzling discovery, which brings us to our knees and leads us to adore this God whose existence we sensed, as was the case for the Magi.
It happens that a word or an event pierces our soul and opens a breach where God's love can enter and illuminate our inner being and renew it completely.
A love that illuminates
I remember, in 1975, when I was attending a meeting of theology students, how touched I was by a professor who testified to his faith in God's love for all life. It pierced my heart and led me to kneel and humble myself before this love of God, which I suddenly discovered.
Then, the next day, I had an unforgettable experience, always present in my mind. A visit from the Word, which seized my whole being. He discovered his love for me, wrapped me in his grace and formed in me the conviction that he is love, that he is Father and Providence.
I think that this "great joy" which seized the Magi must have been similar to what I had experienced then, by the grace of God. The joy that comes from the manifestation of God as Love. This joy leads to a completely new knowledge of God. By entering the house of Bethlehem, the Magi now know who God is. He is present in a manger. They see all the love that surrounds this child, the light that flows from him. This love illuminates their minds and converts them in a radical way.
They will no longer be the same in their way of being, of speaking, of conceiving the world. This star which was above the house of Christ, has now entered into their souls. It is no longer external to them, but internal to them. They themselves have become light.
Do not remain on the threshold
We, too, do not stay on the threshold, but get up and enter! Let us choose to believe in this Love, which will make an inner light rise in us.
These Magi from the East also represent the whole of humanity, the pagans called to walk the path illuminated by the Word, to enter into the Covenant with Israel, "to receive with the Jews the goods that God has reserved for his people, they are members of the same body and they too benefit from the promise that God has made in Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:6).
These Magi tell us that God's love concerns every human person. According to tradition, one of the Magi is black, another has Asian features. This seems very important to me today. We cannot walk by excluding those who are different. We cannot say: I am not interested in others. No, the other colors, the foreign ones, are part of the team of magi. Because of the Child, we form the same community of destiny, where everyone is called to the joy of meeting.
As the Magi are visited by this joy of God and meet Christ personally, each human being is thus loved, and God wants to reveal himself personally to him and make an immense joy dwell in each one.
After having had a similar experience of the irruption of God's love in her life, Chiara Lubich wrote: "From then on, we have discovered God present everywhere with his love: in our days, in our impulses, in our resolutions, in joyful and comforting events, in sad, difficult and painful situations. He was always there and explained to us that everything is love: what we were and what concerned us... Nothing escaped his love... His love enveloped Christians like us, the Church, the world and the whole universe".
During a Taizé meeting, Brother Alois spoke of a trip to China (November 2009). One of the strongest testimonies was given to him by an 80-year-old Protestant pastor. He spent 27 years in a labour camp, first imprisoned and then exiled far away. “In this camp, he told him, we were together with Christians of other churches, there were pastors, priests, a bishop.” Then he stood up and said forcefully: "I know that there is only one body of Christ, in him we are united, I have experienced this. "And he added: "In that period when there was no longer anything visible of the Church, the invisible Church existed. What brought me to life is the word of Isaiah where God says: 'My ways are not your ways'. And when Brother Alois asked him how he saw the future, he answered: "I do not know the future, but I know God. He will guide us step by step.”
Neither the magi nor any astrologer knows the future. The future belongs to God, who loves us and comes to put his inner light within us. His love is the star that will guide us step by step during this new year. Let us therefore have faith and trust in him. Let us walk together in unity. The clarity of God's love increases as our unity grows.
Image: The Adoration of the Magi by the Chinese painter He Qi