The Star of Bethlehem: An Orthodox Approach


What of the star itself? Many attempts have been made by scholars to give some sort of scientific explanation for the Star of Bethlehem. Indeed, there is substantial historic and scientific evidence of an unusual celestial event at the approximate time of the birth of Christ, yet even this would not explain the behavior of the star as described by the Holy Scriptures. Of course, to the Church there is a more mystical approach.

The Holy Fathers tell us that this star can be compared to the miraculous pillar of fire, which stood in the camp by night during Israel’s exodus, or the light from heaven, which overwhelmed Saul on his way to Damascus. St. John Chrysostom, in his homily on the second chapter of Matthew, says God called the wise men by the things that are familiar to them, for being astrologers they were naturally astonished at such a large star. He says that God, for the salvation of those in error, allowed Himself to be served by astrologers, normally used to serve the devil, so that He might gently draw the Magi away from their customs and lead them toward a higher wisdom.

St. Maximos the Confessor says that when the intellect is illumined by the infinite Light of God it becomes insensible to everything made by Him, just as the eye becomes insensitive to the stars when the sun rises. The Magi did not just drop off their gifts and leave, for they left from the presence of Christ as men forever changed by their experience. Their superior intellect and knowledge was confounded by the presence of a little child born under the humblest circumstances.

In keeping this great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, we must receive this Light with joy, not putting it away at the end of the season, but rather let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16).

Source: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/12/magi-and-star-orthodox-understanding.html

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