Here we are once again with our annual remembrance of one of the most fascinating Christmas stories – the story of magi. Many place it in the category of narrative fiction and consider it a concocted story. There are reasons to believe otherwise. In 1999, US News and World Report in one of its December issues carried an article that provided scientific support for the appearance of the star.

One astronomer from Rutgers University argues that it was an alignment of stars and planets that ancient astrologers would have recognized as significant. Jupiter was considered the planet of kings, and a lunar eclipse of Jupiter in the constellation, which was an ancient symbol of Judea, would have excited expectations of a divine birth in the Jerusalem area. According to sophisticated calculations, this would have appeared in the year of Christ’s birth.

In this same article, a British astrophysicist argues that the Bethlehem star was indeed a real star that can still be seen by telescope today. Back when Jesus was born, it was a bright nova. In fact ancient Chinese astronomers report
that an unusually bright star appeared in the exact year that Jesus was born. Like the astronomer from Rutgers, this scientist argues that ancient astrologers would have found the nova significant because of where and when it appeared
– during a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. According to this researcher, the conjunctions would have told the Magi “to await news from Judea and, possibly, to expect the imminent birth of the Messiah.” (Courtesy: Brian Bill, a Baptist pastor).

The absence of exact details notwithstanding,the story of magi could well be a real story. Mathew is not telling a fairy tale but a real story. The aforementioned scientific support might make the story less of a mystery. What stand out here is God’s supernatural work and His extraordinary intervention. The three wise men were open and willing to explore the miracle and seek the deeper meaning of this new revelation from God. The wise still seek him. As the Bible says, “The
fool says in his heart: There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear.

Fr. Abe.