When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
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Augustine of Hippo
To perform its due service to the Lord, it advanced slowly, leading them to the spot. It was ministering to Him, and not ruling His fate; its light showed the suppliants and filled the inn, shed over the walls and roof that covered the birth; and thus it disappeared.
The star had been seen, and with great wonder, nearly two years before. We are to understand that it was signified to them whose the star was, which was visible all that time till He, whom it signified, was born. Then as soon as Christ was made known to them they set out, and came and worshipped Him in thirteen days from the east.
Anselm: It is evident that the star must have been in the air, and close above the house where the Child was, else it would not have pointed out the exact house.
ord.: Or, the star is the illumination of faith, which leads him to the nearest aid; while they turn aside to the Jews, the Magi lose it; so those who seek counsel of the bad, lose the true light.
According to others, the star was first seen on the day of the nativity, and having accomplished its end, ceased to be. Thus Fulgent us says, “The Boy at His birth created a new star.” Though they now knew both time and place, he still would not have them ignorant of the person of the Child, “Go,” he says, “and enquire diligently of the young Child;” acommission they would have executed even if he had not commanded it.
This passage shews, that when the star had brought the Magi nearly to Jerusalem, it was hidden from them, and so they were compelled to ask in Jerusalem, "where Christ should be born?” and thus to manifest Him to them; on two accounts, first, to put to confusion the Jews, inasmuch as the Gentiles instructed only by sight of a star sought Christ through strange lands, while the Jews who had read the Prophets from their youth did not receive Him, though born in their country. Secondly, that the Priests, when asked where Christ should be born, might answer to their now condemnation, and while they instructed Herod, they were themselves ignorant of Him. "The star went before them,” to show them the greatness of the King.
What wonder that a divine star should minister to the Sun of righteousness about to rise. It stood over the Child’s head, as it were, saying, ‘This is He; 'proving by its place what it had no voice to utter.
For therefore only was it hidden, that having lost their guide, they might come to be obliged to make inquiry of the Jews, and so the matter might be made evident to all. Since after they have made inquiries, and have had His enemies for informants, it appears to them again. And mark how excellent was the order; how in the first place after the star the people of the Jews receives them, and the king, and these bring in the prophecy to explain what had appeared: how next, after the prophet, an angel again took them up and taught them all things; but for a time they journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the guidance of the star, the star again journeying with them from that place also; that hence too you might learn, that this was not one of the ordinary stars, for there is not so much as one star that has this nature. And it not merely moved, but went before them, drawing and guiding them on in mid-day.
But what need of this star any more, one may ask, when the place was ascertained...
As soon as Herod had heard the answer, though doubly authenticated, both by the authority of the Priests, and the passage from the Prophets, he yet turned not to worship the King that was to be born, but sought how he might put Him to death by subtilty. He saw that the Magi were neither to be won by flattery, nor awed by threats, nor bribed by gifts, to consent to this murder; he sought therefore to deceive them; “he privily called the wise men;” that the Jews, whom he suspected, might not know of it. For he thought they would incline the rather to a King of their own nation.
Or, the star appeared to them long time before, because the journey would takeup some time, and they were to stand before Him immediately on His birth, that seeing Him in swaddling clothes, He might seem the more wonderful.
“Concerning the young Child,” he says, not ‘of the King;’ he envies Him there gal title.
Or, the star figures the grace of God, and Herod the Devil. He, who by sin puts himself in the Devil’s power, loses that grace; but if he return by repentance, he soon finds that grace again which leaves him not till it have brought him to the young Child’s house, i.e. the Church.
“Diligently enquired;” craftily, for he feared they would not return to him, and then he should know how he should do to put the young Child to death.
The Magi obeyed the King so far as to seek the Lord, but not to return toHerod. Like in this to good hearers; the good they hear from wicked preachers, that they do; but do not imitate their evil lives.
The Magi were guileless and thought that Herod, too, spoke without guile.
The star was hidden for a time by God’s providence so that they would inquire of the Jews, and Herod would be troubled, and thus the truth would be made all the more apparent. But when they had departed from Jerusalem, it again appeared and guided them; from which it is clear that the star was a divine power.
This, too, was extraordinary. For the star descended from the heights and came closer to the earth to show them the place. For if it had appeared to them from the heights, how would they have been able to know the particular spot where Christ was? For the stars are visible over a great area. So it is that you may see the moon over your house, while it appears to me that it is over my house alone; and, in short, to each one the moon, or a star, appears to stand over them alone. Neither could this star have pointed out where Christ was if it had not descended and all but stood over the head of the Child.