Before radar and GPS, sailors and explorers could tell where they went by looking at the stars. They were guided to safety, to home, by their knowledge. The only star I know is the North Star, but even only knowing that one star still helps me get my bearings and know where I am going.
Our journey of life is the same. We have guides to help us to find our way, “stars” to help us arrive where we want to go. What stars do we follow in our pilgrimage of life? Do we follow the stars of the world, or do we follow the star of Christ? Other “stars” we follow may appear bright and promise happiness — such as drugs, gangs or material success — but, in the end, they are not stars; they are empty promises and darkness. When we follow these paths, we get lost; we come to a place of emptiness and pain, sadness and despair.
Are we able to recognize the star of Christ guiding us in our lives? Like the Magi from the east, are we able to recognize this star in our lives — the presence of God in our lives — and follow it until we come face to face with God?
We are called to see and to follow the star that leads us to God, that leads us to Christ. He is the light of the world and shines upon each of us. Even though clouds may cover the earth, even though darkness may be all around us, that light still shines. It may seem dim; it may be difficult to find; but it is always there, to guide us and shine upon us. When the clouds of doubt or fear or sin or hopelessness obscure the star, we are called to trust that it is still there, that Christ is still there in the midst of our doubts and fears and hopelessness.
He continues to call us, to lead us to love, to peace, to truth, to life. These can only be found in Christ; all the other stars we may follow do not lead to true peace and life. It is only when we look upon the star that leads us to God that we may experience joy. Like the Magi, let us rejoice at finding the star.
When we follow the star, we are more aware of God’s presence and guidance in every part of our lives. There is nothing that God doesn’t know; there is no place that God is not there; there is no situation that God cannot transform. Even when the clouds come, and doubts and fears and challenges happen, the star is still there. Just as the stars are still in the sky even if we can’t see them, God, too, is still there even if we don’t sense his love or presence. Even when things appear hopeless or it seems that God is gone, let us trust that God is still there, that Christ is still there.
In a beautiful prayer, St. Augustine wrote, “You were with me, but I was not with you. You called, you shouted and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone and you dispelled my blindness.” Christ is still calling to us, is still shining on us. Let us pray that we may not be deaf to his call, that we may not be blind to his light, to his star guiding us in our lives, guiding us to him, guiding us home.
• The Rev. Jeremy Dixon is parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.