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Reflections on the Sunday readings

Missing the party

Today’s gospel features an astrological sign, foreign dignitaries from a different culture, political intrigue in the suggestion of a new ruler to rival Herod someday, and all Jerusalem joining with their king in worry over these events. It is the human condition to worry, to be anxious, about the unknown. Surely there is much to worry about in our world, and much that might make us anxious for ourselves and those we love. And yet, in our story, look at the joy that was missed as people united in dread over what might go wrong. It is as though the light of the star confused them, rather than helping them to find their way.
In contrast, those who were wise went to see the baby and were overjoyed when they found him. They were certainly aware of danger, and accordingly traveled home a separate way, but their awareness did not keep them from celebrating the birth of the King of the Jews. Today’s story suggests that we humans do have the capacity to retain a sensible awareness of potential harm while staying focused on the light. Once a worry starts rippling through a city, or a family, however, it is hard to turn one’s attention away from it. Today’s story describes how joining with others in a wave of anxiety can keep one from celebrating how God is with us today.
To ponder: What am I anxious about? How much of my worry is, on balance, appropriate to my situation? How do the worries of others increase my anxiety? Who is responsible for their worries? How can I keep my worries from blocking the light of life?
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