The star means many things to a lot of people: it could refer to a celebrity singer, actor or performance artist; it could also mean a rock star scientist or inventor/innovator; in Astronomy, it refers to the stars of the galaxies of which our sun is part of. In biblical context, it is the holy star that guided the three magi or wise men and the shepherds to the manger where the Holy Child Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
For this issue, I decided to write about this symbol of Christmas to remind us of the essence of the nativity: it is love personified in that our Almighty Father gave His only Son to come to earth, live with us, preach the message of faith, hope, love and salvation so whoever would believe and accept Him would be saved from eternal damnation, paraphrasing John 3:16.
This is all good to hear in our Sunday mass homilies but practising love for ourselves and love for others is another thing in real life. Some people can’t even love themselves; they loathe themselves so much that they constantly berate and put themselves down, channelling their inner demons to do their nastiest. This emanates from their lack of self-love so that when faced with pressure and taunting from bullies and internet haters, they snap and retreat into their own corner. They’ve already punished themselves. They use other people’s negative opinions and comments to confirm their perceived worthlessness. To cope, some often turn to social media to seek attention, often playing the victim card to justify their abuse of other people. It turns into a vicious cycle of bullying and feeling worthless.
And how about loving others, especially the mean and unlovable ones who constantly hurt us? How often do we wrestle with hatred, anger, bitterness, envy or pride towards others? When others attack, offend or betray us, isn’t it easier to fight back, get mad and defend ourselves than it is to keep our peace, pray and offer our sorrow to our Almighty God who knows what’s really in our hearts? It’s always harder to keep our peace. In Luke 6:27, we are told the Christian response: “But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” And it doesn’t just stop there, we are told not just to do good to our haters and bashers but to bless them as well. What?! Now that’s going too far, we may complain. But the Bible is definitive. In Romans 12:14, it says “Bless them who persecute you: bless and curse not.”
That is why our struggle to choose good over evil is a constant one. Sometimes we fail and that’s okay, we’re human. But we pick ourselves up and start again, this time, offering our efforts to God, who is with us each step of the way.
For me, the Christmas Star stands for love, an infinite, boundless, unconditional love that embraces us in spite of our incredible sinfulness. It doesn’t count the number of times the other person has offended us but offers a hand in friendship. Forgiveness is a necessary step to be able to love ourselves and others. It doesn’t mean we condone their offensive behaviour. Rather, it means we release ourselves from the anger and bitterness so we may have peace within us. Wouldn’t this be a beautiful gift for the birthday of our Saviour? So let us forgive, forget and continue on our journey, moving on, travelling light…