Be a Star!

Adoration of the Magi, Corrado Giaquinto, c. 1725

One of my abiding joys is spending time with my great-nieces and great-nephew.  One night, we sat in the backyard and looked up at the starry sky.  We talked about how God made everything, and how his presence can be seen in all the wonders of his creation, including the stars and all of us.  Out in the country, where the lights of man do not obscure the ability to see the lights of God, the grandeur of the stars is even greater.

Looking up into the sky 2,000 years ago, the Magi saw all this and more as they were able to discern one star in particular.  They understood that the bright Star in the sky was a sign of something great, a light for them to follow (Matthew 2:1-12).  On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we reflect upon that very significant star and how it points to Jesus.

But if there had been no star, how would the Magi have known to come to Bethlehem to encounter the newborn King?  The same can be said for today.  If there are no stars to guide people today, how will they come to know the Lord?

Imagine if instead of one star out of millions pointing to Bethlehem the entire sky were filled with stars leading the way to Jesus.  We are called each in our own way to be that light – leading people to Jesus.  We are called to be those stars.

Today the light that brings people to Christ shines in his Church.  The Lord calls us to manifest him in his new Body – the Church.  In his beautiful encyclical letter, The Light of Faith, Pope Francis tells us that Christ’s Church is not a mere symbol, but as a living reality, “an incarnate light radiating from the luminous life of Jesus” (Lumen fidei, 34).  In making us a new creation in Baptism, God in a sense says to us “Let there be light” giving us the grace to be one of those stars, a stellar disciple, a light to the world (Matthew 3:11, 5:14).

How does one become a star?  How does one become a part of a great constellation of stars all pointing to Christ?  The answer we find in the call that we love God and love one another.  One who loves cannot help but be radiant, especially when his heart is enkindled with the fire of the love of the Spirit.  There are many stars out there today who, through their love, point the way to Jesus Christ and his kingdom.  The greatest among these is Mary, Star of the New Evangelization (Evangelii gaudium, 287-88).  But each of us can replicate the work of that Great Star of Bethlehem and help people be enlightened by its message.

In 2014, as we observe the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Church of Washington, we will have several occasions to voice our gratitude for the many people who have been stellar disciples through the years, manifesting the kingdom of love, compassion, kindness, joy and peace in their own lives.  We are doing that today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the contributions of all who shine Christ’s light in the world.

In a particular way, we recognize many of them with the Manifesting the Kingdom Award for all they do in our 139 parishes, and nearly 100 schools and other programs.  These women and men are always there, in countless radiant ways, at the service of Christ and his Church.  If we were to cite them all, the list would go on and on as we identify star after star in this brilliant constellation that is the Archdiocese of Washington.

May God bless them and each of you whose love shines forth to brighten the lives of so many today who are in need of the Lord’s luminous presence.