by Thomas Skaria
In ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, an American biographical drama film based on the entrepreneur Chris Gardner, the protagonist (played by Will Smith) makes a living by selling bone-density scanners. Doctors wouldn’t buy those machines as they were apparently only a little better than the X-ray machines, yet very expensive. Consequently, Chris loses his apartment and his wife leaves him, forcing him on to the street with his 5-year-old son, Christopher. The story is all about Chris’ pursuit of happiness. The movie resonates with a lot of us because life in itself is a pursuit. Some pursue education while some pursue wealth. Some pursue a vocation or a hobby while others pursue a career. We all pursue ‘knowledge’ in different forms. The dictionary defines ‘Pursuit’ as an action word: an action of pursuing ‘someone’ or ‘something’; an act of chasing or an act of striving to accomplish something.
The Bible narrates the story of a few astrologers who were pursuers. When the Magi, perhaps in this case Zoroastrian dualists – mostly polytheists – sighted that bright and mysterious Star lodged in the Western side of their skies, their life-time pursuit for complex knowledge in the area of Astrology seemed to be culminating in a new pursuit – a pursuit for the Truth. Interestingly, God gives each of us signs that we understand in order to lead us to the Truth. In this instance, for the Magi of the East – it was a Star. God spoke their language.
BEGINNING OF A PURSUIT
Astrology was considered as the science of the day by the ancient world. It was believed, particularly in the East, that the placement and displacement of stars would affect the future of Man. The strange thing is that, just about the time Jesus was born, there was in the world a strange sentiment of expectation of the arrival of a great king. Even the Roman historians mentioned this in their writings. The Roman historian Suetonius wrote, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world.” Tacitus mentions of the same belief that “there was a firm persuasion … that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire universal empire.”
Incidentally, the closest star to the Earth is the Sun which can be reached in a little more than 8 minutes at the speed of light. As for other stars, ‘Proxima Centauri’ was considered to be the closest and its light can reach the Earth in 4 years and 2 months. So for the ‘Christmas’ Star to have shone at the right moment for the Magi to notice, it must have begun shining at least 4 years prior to its sighting. It’s amazing that God had initiated His work enough in advance so that the Magi would sight it precisely at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Today, God continues to reveal Himself to people of various pursuits in different ways. The pursuit of Truth can and will be found in any and every discipline whether it be science or the arts. This fact speaks volumes on the pursuit of God to connect with man.
CONTINUING THE PURSUIT
Often times when a research is undertaken in a university, the researcher is asked to come up with a hypothesis. Through various processes and tools, the researcher is expected to arrive at a conclusion. Most researchers have an inkling or at least, a faint clue of the intended conclusion and they pursue it. But imagine if the tables are turned on him and the investigation points contrary to his hypothesis after an awfully long process of study. Here is where, I think the researcher’s integrity is put to test. Would he or she camouflage facts in order to prove his or her point or would he or she be willing to be led wherever the truth will lead? Would he or she be able to defend the findings with honesty and absolute truthfulness, although the research has yielded an unexpected finding altogether?
As the star specified a king born in Judea, the wise men naturally expected to find him in Jerusalem’s palace. However, their search brought them to a wrong conclusion. King Herod himself consults his wise men and finds out that the prophets of old had predicted specifics of the very place of birth of Jesus. And the Magi continue their journey in the pursuit of Truth. They weren’t disappointed with the embarrassment because of the apparent failure of their ‘knowledge’; but they were bold and honest enough to extend the journey of their pursuit despite the discomfort to their egos and ethos. They followed the evidence until the end, until it brought them face-to-face with the Truth.
In your pursuit of the Truth, may I ask – would you have the integrity to stay on course till the end? What if the ‘knowledge’ that you have been holding-on to very proudly actually meets the ‘dead-end’ sign in the middle of your pursuit? Will you be ready to honestly continue with your pursuit?
CULMINATION OF THE PURSUIT
On arriving at the house, the Magi saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Prostration was, in fact, a way that Persians venerated rulers as well as deities. When they recognised this was no ordinary child, they did not mind falling on their knees in worship. The culmination of an honest pursuit of Truth is always worship.
It was the pursuit of Truth that culminated for C.S. Lewis, the most reluctant convert in all of England in 1929 when, alone in that room at Magdalen, he made the commitment. He writes, “Night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. I gave in and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
May I encourage you to be relentless in the pursuit of Truth while earnestly staying on course the pursuit that beckons you! The eternal Pursuer of Man will surely let your feet stumble upon some threads that will eventually lead you to the ultimate pursuit of Truth. And until you figure out that Truth, keep deriving your conclusions honestly and boldly. Praying that as you begin your pursuit and continue it, you would not falter at the crucial stage of the culmination of that pursuit.