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?” When Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
When I was a child, I had a hard time believing what many adults would tell me. For example, they would tell me that we were all the same or that we were all special. But when I received my report card and I compared my grades with my classmates, I knew we were not all the same. I never believed them and for good reason: they were lying.
There is no use denying it. The grass is greener on the other side. Some people are better off than I am. Some people are more successful than others. Mathematically speaking, only one person wins first place; the rest are losers. Winning is the only thing that matters. If you are not Apple Inc., then you are in decline. Another way of saying second place is “first losers.” It is true, we all have problems. But imagine for a moment a neighbor coming up to you and saying, “I can no longer afford to buy a car for my son's 18th birthday”, and you politely say to them, “I know what you mean. I’m actually having a hard time selecting between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini for my son's birthday.” Or, imagine someone at work saying to you, “Could you please pray for my daughter. Tomorrow she has brain surgery” and you shake your head and say to them, “Please pray for us too, my daughter needs to have braces.” Or a friend comes up to you and says, "My father died today" and you say, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that, my cat passed away today too."
Why deny it? Why hide it? Why is it so hard to admit that some people have worse problems than others or that some people are better off than others? If not, then you will live your life thinking that there is something wrong with you. No wonder why so many of us turn and run to the therapist and tell them, “I think there is something wrong with me. I mean, I’m not as happy as I should be. I don’t feel as loved as I should. I don't feel comfortable here.” Let me tell you something right now. The world is not perfect. It is fallen, and we have fallen with it. We should feel uncomfortable in this twisted, distorted and topsy-turvy world of ours. If not, then there is something seriously wrong with us.
Herod lived in a palace. Jesus lived in a stable. How more twisted can you get? Herod was surrounded in wealth. Jesus was surrounded in hay. How upside down is that? Herod commanded an army. Jesus commanded a cow, a goat and some sheep. Herod could march around. Jesus had to be carried by his mother and father. Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like a perfect world? And yet, the Lord chose it, lived and died in it and sanctified it. And when Herod and all of Jerusalem wanted to kill him, the Lord knew better. He did not ask, "Why me?" or "What's wrong with me?" He knew why. He knew that in a fallen world, there's no place for God.
Whatever Jesus did, he sanctified. When Jesus was born of a woman, he sanctified forever child birth. Giving birth to a child is not only natural; it is sacred. We think we have made progress. But in reality we haven’t. Sure, we take ten steps forward, but we also take one giant leap backwards. We make child bearing so much easier. But we make abortion even easier. Health care helps us live longer. But there is pressure on the elderly to end their lives earlier.
When Jesus entered into the world, he came between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. Getting married is very natural. But the Lord sanctified marriage by being a part of it. And so, marriage is not only natural, it is holy. The same goes for family. The Lord chose to be a part of a family, and by doing so he sanctified that which is natural.
What gifts does the Lord want from us? He wants our love and our fidelity. In fact, that's what our spouse and our children want too. What God has joined together (fixed and repaired), no man must ever separate!
There are two types of people in the world that we all have a hard time dealing with: the very rich and the very poor. We have a very hard time with the very rich because we feel inferior to them; the very poor because we are embarrassed or scared of them. In Bethlehem, in the stable, we find poor shepherds and rich Kings, together. The Lord knows how to bring His people together. He knows how to reconcile the world to Himself. He knows how to turn things right-side up!
Today, the wise men teach us an amazing lesson in this amazing true story. There is a light that shines in the darkness and I must follow it. They followed the Light that led to the Lord regardless of the difficulties they endured, the challenges they faced, the unfairness of life, the pain and suffering they endured, the dangers of life, the evil men that surrounded them. They followed a star that led them home, to the Son of God.
This is a beautiful lesson for all of us who live in an imperfect world. Follow the Lord. Follow the Leader. Follow God and He will bring you home.