…But the worst thing, the thing that made the journey the hardest, was the comments of others. Most of the people they met on their way could not understand why they were following a star. They thought they were crazy to travel by such an obscure light; crazy to have left behind the safety of their own land, and the security of their jobs in the Shah’s court.
They would ask him and his friends why they had not stayed at home with the other wise men, and they would suggest, without actually saying so, that perhaps they were not as wise as those others who had seen the star, but not followed it.
“So, a king has been born” they would say, “This happens every day – so what is so special about this king that you would undertake this journey. What possible difference can it make to you?” And when he or one of the others replied that this king had a special star, a kind of star never seen before, they would laugh and say that life was too good to go off chasing after a king that no one had ever seen, let alone heard about.
Even the other astrologers they consulted along the way thought that he and his friends were being foolish. “What difference can it make to you?” they would ask, “Right now you could be making a handsome profit casting charts for businessmen or telling your nation’s generals when to make war and when to make peace, instead here you are wandering the world looking for someone or something that may not even exist.”
And so the days and the weeks passed. They pressed on, but often they wondered if anything would come of it, and always, even on those marvelous days when they had no doubts of their own, they had to contend with the doubts of others. There had been days, when resting by the roadside in their camp, or casting charts in a village square to earn money to pay for their food and lodging, he had been tempted to give up his quest. He would feel comfortable, money would be jingling in his purse, his belly would be full, and he would think about the hazards of their journey, and how good he it felt to do what everyone else did, and he would forget the new king for a while.
But then night would come and he and his companions would look up and they would see the star, and it would seem to outshine the others in the sky, and realizing just how special it was and how important the new king had to be, they would once again mount their camels and set forth to find him.
Yes, he was very tired, the journey had been long and very hard at times, but tonight was special, he had at last arrived at the place the star had led him to. The country he and the others were in that night was not a very important one. It lay under Roman rule – and it was primitive and backward. But they had heard rumours that a king was supposed to be born in it, and when they had gone to the capital city and asked about that king, the man who governed the nation had told them to go and check in a town called Bethlehem.
Earlier that night they had left the city.
The star had shone brightly from the direction that Herod had indicated and they had followed it, until they had entered the village of Bethlehem, and when they had arrived there it seemed to him that the star was, for the very first time, directly above his head, and that it shone in a special way upon one house.
He had dismounted and with the other two had entered the house and saw an infant child in his mother’s arms. For a moment he doubted that he had found the great king, for though the star shone through the chimney hole so that its light seemed to rest upon the child’s face – everything else seemed to be all wrong.
There was no sign of royal wealth in the house, there were no expensive oils to sooth the skin, no costly furs or linens upon the sleeping pads to bring easy sleep to the baby, there was nothing in fact to indicate that the babe was anything but the child of a poor peasant, of a man, who by the few tools and pieces of wood stacked in a corner seemed to be a carpenter. Yet – there was a feeling in the room, a feeling that seemed to radiate from both the mother and the child, and the star light seemed to cast a halo around them.
So he had explained to the woman why he was there with the others, and in return she had told him of a dream she had, a dream in which her God had told her she would bear a child to rule his people and to bring light to the gentiles.
Then her husband told them that the baby was special, and that when he had been born shepherds had seen angels and come to the stable were the baby had been born and worshiped the child. And then he had looked again at the child, and at his mother, and he thought about the light she had mentioned, and how the star had brought him to this very place and a feeling of joy overcame him, a feeling that he saw had overcome his friends.
Then, without a word to each other, they had knelt, and paid homage to the new king, they had prayed that God his father would bless him in all his days, and make him greater even than the star that had led them to him, and then they had given the child those things that they had brought to give to the new born king – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, outside the little house he thought about his journey, he felt tired, but he felt a peace that he had never felt before; he realized that he would never feel incomplete again, for the king who had been born, was not a king-like all the other kings he had known, for he was a king who would look after all those who were like him: the poor, the weak, and the humble.
He was a king who would conquer with love, and rule with compassion. He realized that somehow the God that Mary spoke of was the only God that mattered, and that this God was in the child they had seen. He prayed for the second time that night, he prayed that he might be one of those loved by that child, one of those loved by that God, and that he might always see the light of his star inside his heart and follow his way, and he knew even as he prayed – that his prayer would be answered.
It had been a long journey, at times it had been a discouraging journey, but it had been a worthwhile journey, because not only had he found a great king, he had also found a God who cared so much for the world, that he had taken on flesh and dwelt among his people.