January 6, 2021
King Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word.”
(Matthew 2:7-8, NRSV)
I wonder if the seekers from the East had their own followers: disciples who trusted the questions they asked, who were inspired by their studies, who took seriously their interpretation of the star’s rising, who joined them on the quest for a single child in a foreign land.
When the seekers stopped in Jerusalem, their question to Herod – “Where is the child who was born king of the Jews?” – was not only a question but also an invitation to share their curiosity and follow the star with them. “Can you envision what we’re seeking?”
But Herod didn’t consider himself to be a follower, a fellow seeker, or a wayfarer on the path toward wisdom. He already had his wisdom. He was the king. He was in charge. He had a throne to preserve at all costs.
That didn’t make Herod a leader. It made him a doctrine, a self-contained set of answers, a human dogma that could not tolerate questions. Doctrines demand devotees, adherents and audiences. Doctrines love to be the star.
The seekers from the East weren’t leaders either (even if they had followers). The seekers came to Herod with a question. It made them students, practitioners, collaborators who need others to learn. Students need others to shine.
And so it has been through the ages of humanity, that there are those who demand stardom and obedience to their desire to be the star and there are those who wonder and wander in joyful awe of the lights that shine beyond them … and most of us are both.
Prayer: For every jealous desire to be a star, O Holy Revelation, forgive me. Through every gift that shines and shares the way, O Holy Child, be blessed and bless us.
written for the Daily Devotional