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Follow the light which God offers us

2016-01-07 08:59

When American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, many of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing as the first blurred images reached our television screens. Ever since that moment and in spite of meticulously analysed lunar rock samples, various experts have argued whether the landing actually took place or whether it was an elaborately arranged film set.

How times have changed! Today we are able to watch live video streaming from the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting two hundred and fifty miles above Earth at a speed of more than seventeen thousand miles per hour – fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon and back in one day. We can listen to discussions between the astronauts and Mission Control in Houston. We are able to watch them floating around the module as they work at instruments fixed into wall panels by more than eight miles of electrical wiring. We even hear them discussing with Mission Control how to repair the malfunctioning television cameras or what to do with the blood and urine samples which must be periodically tested.

From the external cameras, we can watch the changing scenes as the orbiting ISS travels over continents and oceans. The vast blackness of Outer Space is pierced by the growing pencil-slim sliver of light as the sun comes into view. Suddenly weather forecasts make sense as winds blow vast cloud formations in one direction or another. Earth’s beauty and silence are beyond our human description: moments for wonder and prayer.

Matthew’s Gospel describes the long journey which the Magi willingly undertook as they followed the star to Bethlehem and the Infant Jesus – but their journey is not over and done with: their challenge reaches us, two thousand years later. In his homily for the feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis declared, “We are challenged to go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother. Let us follow the light which God offers us – that tiny light… And once we have found him, let us worship him with all our heart, and present him with our gifts: our freedom, our understanding and our love.”

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