Why does the Nativity Scene include wise men who followed a star?

Q

Dear Father Adrian - as Catholics and Christians we are discouraged from paying attention to astrology, zodiac signs, and a study of planetary positions and stars to determine our future. Then why does the Nativity Scene include three wise men who followed a star?  Lorraine Millet

And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! -  Matthew 2:9-10 (NLTCE)

AFr. Adrian answers:

What you have said is very true. While we respect the feelings of others who might think differently from us, Christians are called upon to renounce astrology for two main reasons: firstly, it has been proven to be unscientific, and secondly, it has been forbidden by God's law which is perfect. However, we have to admit that there are some indications that the Magi might have been astrologers. So how do we reconcile this with our understanding of astrology as something evil?

In the first place, the star of Bethlehem was a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy of Balaam, himself a pagan soothsayer. Balaam had a genuine vision of the Lord and foretold the coming of the Messiah, predicting that a "star shall arise out of Jacob" (Num 24:17). It is interesting that this prophecy was first uttered by a man who was himself not a true believer - perhaps he was an astrologer himself, to a certain extent.

The star that appeared to the Magi, in that case, was the fulfilment of an oracle. It was perhaps originally intended as a sign for the peoples of the East, the so-called pagan nations, who looked for signs in the heavens. God showed them that he was far superior to the heavens and was capable of making the heavens point to his own beloved Son. So the star brought the pure-hearted Magi to the Child of Bethlehem, while the Jerusalem priests who lived just a few miles away, and who had the Sacred Scriptures as their guide, were unable to find the child because their own hearts were impure!

This tells us that God is loving and compassionate. Blessed are those who seek God in their hearts, for God will surely give them a sign which will lead them onward to the truth. The sign may be in the skies, it may be in books, it may be in people, it may be in events. On the other hand, if a person does not seek God, no amount of external helps - not even external forms of piety - can bring him or her to God.

About Rev Fr Adrian Mascarenhas

Rev. Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas is the parish priest of St. Peters Church, Bangalore, India. He completed his seminary studies at St. Pius X College, Mumbai, and has been working as a priest of Bangalore Archdiocese since his ordination in 2011. He also serves as Editor of the Tabor Kirana, official magazine of the Archdiocese of Bangalore

Rev. Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas has served as the Assistant Parish Priest of St. Patrick's Church and Ascension Church, and has just completed two years of ministry at St. Peter's Church, Bangalore, India. He received his licentiate in sacred theology from Dharmaram Vidya Kshethram and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome.

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