The wise men saw a star rising in the East that shown out through the darkness of night and to the place where Jesus was born. And like his star shining through the darkness, Jesus was also that light to a world in need starting right from his birth. Jesus was that shining star, that beacon of hope, to a people who were in the deepest of need. Jesus, though just an infant, even gave hope to the shepherds that night. Shepherds, who were considered to be amongst the lowliest of professions and often were like the Bedouin of Israel today lacking any real settled place to call home, were often in need of a word of hope and the confidence that God was with them.
In life, Jesus would heal the afflicted, the blind, and embrace the child and the widowed. Jesus reached out to the people who were homeless, possessed, and the outcasts of society. He touched their lives and brought a light into their very dark worlds. And Jesus calls us to do the same. We are reminded today with that image of the star bringing light into the world that Jesus’ work is not done but rather lives on the works that you and I do. There are people working every day to bring light into the lives of the afflicted and we too should search for ways to join in that work.
On April 16th CBS posted an article about just such people. One of the individuals is an ivy league graduate American surgeon and the other a Buddhist surgeon from Nepal. These men travel all over the world providing cataract surgery to some of the poorest individuals. They have restored eye sight to over 150,000 individuals in the course of their careers and they have trained many others to do the same. They work in some of the poorest regions of the world and sometimes the most dangerous. Right now they are working to restore sight for individuals in Burma.
Blindness in many countries is just as much of an epidemic as it was in Jesus’ time. Because of poor nutrition, many individuals develop these cataracts as young teenagers severely limiting their earning potential and their status in their communities. What these two surgeons do is bring light back into the lives of individuals who literally live in darkness. They bring light into the lives of people who had long ago given up hope on themselves. This is what Jesus did. He reached out to those who lost all hope in their lives and he became their hope, he became that beacon reminding them that God had not forgotten about them as everyone else had.
So this year, we are being reminded to not give up hope in our lives. We are being reminded that no matter what happens the light of Christ is still alive in this world, in our lives, and in our actions. Jurgen Moltman a 20th century theologian wrote, “The truth of human freedom lies in the love that breaks down barriers”. Jesus’ love broke down barriers between the lowest of society and the average person. His love broke down barriers in the heart of humanity allowing people to see a God that wasn’t about just punishment and justice. But was a God who cared for the down trodden and sought to reignite hope in the world because without love, compassion, and hope there can never be true freedom in this world.
So go forth into this holiday season and throughout the year and share your gifts, reaching out and sharing the light of Christ with those who are in need and use the love that is in your hearts to break down the barriers of society to create a sense of belonging, acceptance, love, and freedom to all who seek. We can make our gifts and talents truly matter by creating a better life for all peoples just as those two surgeons are doing. But it is up to us to go out and do it, to live it, and to allow the light of divine hope to shine through in all that we do.
 Jurgen Moltman, 20th and 21st century theologian.
(Based on Matthew 2:1-11)