This is my last post for many hours. I shall be traveling for almost 24 hours by the time I reach a door and two days before I am in my own State.
My own travels, of course, remind me of the Wise Men, who followed the star. Sometimes going somewhere involves suffering, disappointments, thwarted plans, sadness. But all these are signs of self-will. God sometimes leads us where we do not want to go. But, we must follow the star that God sends us.
But, as my Jesuit master in the little book I have been sharing over Advent and Christmas notes, the star disappeared for a bit.
The Magi had their own brief Dark Night. They were led to a place which would be considered an unlikely place for a King, Saviour, and Teacher to be born, and yet, they lost the star and had to go to Herod counselors.
Without the star disappearing, their faith would not have been tested. And, it was, again, by the sight of the Baby in the most destitute of places to be born, of lowly looking parents.
The Jesuit father notes that despite the scene, the Magi humbled themselves before this King and Saviour. Then, they were given light and graces to recognized Him Who Is God. They adored Him.
No theological discussion, no confusion, only light and grace, “and their souls are flooded with ineffable delight; the stable is changed for them into paradise.”
On the other hand, we all see pride and evil in the judgment of Herod. The commentator notes that Herod was “troubled” as his own plans for his progeny seemed to be threatened.
Selfishness, ambition, jealousy, pride—passion lead to a great hypocrisy.
He wanted information only to kill this new King, not to adore Him.
The priest writes this, “All hypocrisy, even when it does not serve as a mantle for crime, is odious to God and men….To assume the appearance of virtue, without caring about its reality, is hypocrisy. To obey orders, or conform to rule, only because we are observed, …to speak otherwise than we think, so as to obtain what we desire; to speak ill of one’s self, so as to attract praise….are all evidently kinds of hypocrisy.”
Babies died because of this hypocrisy of Herod. But, God allowed for the creation of the first saints, and for the downfall of Herod.
The Jesuit notes that, “The impious men who never cease to persecute Jesus Christ in His Church and in her members can do nothing without God’s permission. Let us trust in Him; He knows how to turn all their plots to their confusion and to our advantage.”
As I leave this fair isle, I leave many friends, my spiritual director, good priests, aspiring youth, all concerned first with the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it is the result of the courage and willingness of those who lived here in the past to stand up against evil, to pursue God in humility, to love Mary, Our Mother, above all women.
Their is community here based on the Catholic Faith, and not just on family. This is one reason I love Malta—those who put Christ first are not hypocrites and even when they walk in certain darkness, they seek God, they seek the Light daily.
The Maltese love their families, but they have not made idols of their children or their spouses. They are bluntly honest, yet loving and caring. Are these not marks of community?
Malta stands at the threshold, the meeting places of many cultures. It is small but strategic. Many Maltese fear what may come, what came before, in the attacks by the Nazis and Italian Fascists in World War II, by the Turks (“Arabs”) in the Great Siege, in the newer attack of socialism, secularism and gross sin, as Malta has become one of those watering places for gays, a country where gay porn is legal online.
Yet, they look towards God, realizing that their culture is being undermined daily. They have a long history of fighting for the Faith. I sincerely hope this true zeal comes to the fore, and that the pull of hypocrisy fails to overcome the true Faith here.
Many people in the world choose what Herod chose-passion and self-will over the Light Who Is Christ.
They miss the chance to become saints. Even Herod was offered a time to repent, to seek the True King of Israel.
I pray that you and me never pass up opportunities to lay down our wills, like the Kings laid down their wills in laying down their plans, their families, their status and position to follow a star.
Do you think it was easy for them to follow that star?
It is never easy to follow Christ. But, it gets easier the more we cooperate and say “yes” even to things which are against our own wills.
See you all soon….