Star Regulus near the Leo 1 Dwarf Galaxy; NASA APOD, by Russell Croman

Yesterday, people around the world celebrated Christmas by following a tradition of gift giving that traces its roots to the account of the Magi — the wise men from the East who are reported to have followed a star in order to offer gifts to the newborn Jesus. Irrespective of one’s religious beliefs, in our pursuit of peace, there is much that we at Pax Populi can learn from the example of these wise men. Let’s consider for a moment three points.

First, the Magi believed in the goodness to which the star was leading them, and in the pursuit of their sacred mission they spared no expenses, took great risks, and showed true courage by following the star into unknown and potentially dangerous territories. At Pax Populi, we too must commit ourselves to following our star, knowing that in doing so the potential benefits are matched with serious risks.

The second lesson is found in their gift giving. Although the Magi traveled a great distance, they did so not to achieve wealth or fame, but to make an offering of the most precious things available to them. In a like manner, if we wish to pursue peace, we need to be moved by a spirit of generosity in which we are prepared to give much even though we may never see any obvious reward from our efforts. Instead of offering frankincense, gold, and myrrh, we give of our time, money, and talents with the aim that our efforts will lead to the creation of a more peaceful world.

When the Magi met with Herod, the king of Judea, they were told to return to him after discovering the whereabouts of the recently born Jesus. Because Herod’s intentions were violent, the third lesson of the Magi was their decision to return to their home by another way. The goal of Pax Populi is peace, and the route we propose taking is the Other Way: rather than the path of armed conflict or the path of Afghan abandonment, we are dedicated to advancing peace by reaching out in friendship to help the Afghans help themselves. No one has more at stake in achieving peace in Afghanistan than the Afghans. To the extent that we are able, we want to support them in their struggle to create a strong, peaceful civil society.

As part of Pax Populi’s Other Way of Peacemaking, we seek to conjoin the most creative ideas in peacemaking with a spirit of determination and courage. It may be a long and difficult journey we have ahead, but we believe that the Other Way we are trying to advance is ultimately the quickest route to a peace that will be strong and enduring.

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Donna DeVito · January 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm

This was truly a wonderful lesson to read. Just today, Sunday Jan. 2. 2011, our Gospel at church refelected on this story about the Magi and the season of the Epiphany. Its great to read about something insightful and heart-warming. Without the gift of love, peace and talents, this world is truly in an upheavel. I wish to extend my support in all that Pax Populi represents and wish them all the best in their journey’s ahead! God Bless

Peter · December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

Beautiful reflection! Amen to it all! The late biblical scholar, Fr Raymond Brown, had a wonderful insight into the Magi story. They were pagans, outside the Covenant, who were led, nevertheless, by Reason – their “science” if you will (astronomy) – very close to Christ. The star led them, at first, NOT to Bethlehem but to Jerusalem. There the Magi (Reason) had to consult the Jewish scribes (Revelation) as to where the Messiah would be born. Only after learning from the people of the Book that the prophet had foretold Bethlehem, did the star continue on and lead them to the Child. And yet the keepers of Revelation did not accompany the men of Reason. Brown’s suggestion: Matthew’s community was a mix, not always an easy mix, of Jewish and Gentile converts to the infant Christian faith; and perhaps Matthew was teaching them that Reason and Revelation must walk hand-in-hand. Or, as we might say, none of us has it all together, but together (and only so) we can have it all. And also, whereas the Prophet Isaiah had foretold gifts of gold and frankincense for the Messiah when he would come, Matthew added myrrh, the spice used in embalming for burial: the Messiah’s “peaceable kingdom” would come only at the cost of suffering, but a redemptive suffering from which would blossom new life. Godspeed Pax Populi’s work towards that peaceable kingdom!

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