This twelfth day of Christmas is a special multicultural encounter, in which we reflect on the arrival of wise easterners journeying westward in pursuit of a newly-appeared star that marked the birthplace of a tiny but important world figure. In Hispanic countries, children wait until this day, Reyes, to receive their gifts. Put your shoes out--see what happens!
As the world spins seemingly out of control, retirement accounts shrivel, numbers of crimes committed in the passed year skyrocket, and wars of words and weapons rage, let us stop to reflect on the cultural clash that little King Jesus brought to the world beyond the Judean countryside. Why is Jesus' presence as a baby born in a stable something that would attract the attention of the world's leading scientists, as those star-gazers of old must have been?
A Messiah had been promised. God's Word of promise through the prophets of old gave hope to the nation of Israel. So King Herod ordered the death of all boys of the region who were around Jesus' age, trying to prevent the threatening little royal's survival. Jesus' parents became aliens, fleeing for his life into Egypt. Theirs was no caravan--they crossed the desert much like those who cross borders in embattled frontier towns of our modern age, with the clothes on their back, the water in their canteen, and not much else. Because they believed, and because they loved, they left home and family to protect their son.
Sometimes picking up and going is what God demands. In 2009, many of us will be called to pack, to move, to leave home, to move on. We probably won't be following a star, or fleeing for the safety of our eldest sons. What is significant to me this year is to recognized that in following the star, the wise men believed. They followed that strange star into the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem, to find a child born to humble but pious parents, and they trusted that He mattered.
Maybe you left your shoes out last night. Maybe you put some hay in them, or left the light on for the Reyes Magos to find your resting place. Maybe your gifts are already two weeks old, and fitting a bit snugly after two weeks of holiday munching. Whatever the case at your house, whenever and however you celebrate, may the light of Christ's presence illumine your living and learning in the coming year. May 2009 be a year of strengthened faith in God, and in all your language and literature-learning adventures, cross-country or international moves, and pursuits of stability and peace, may the Lord lead and guide.
En la paz de Cristo,