Just before Christmas I saw in the news that two out of three people in London do not believe in the biblical story of Christ’s birth. You may find this shocking. Well, I do not. I myself have doubts, when I read today’s gospel. In fact I would be very worried, if most people did believe the story. In a similar way, people who believe in the biblical description of creation worry me. These people can be dangerous. Don’t panic, I haven’t lost my faith.
Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen the film called “Braveheart” – the biopic about William Wallace? I have seen it many times. Here is the question: Does this film tell a true story? The answer is: Yes and no. William Wallace’ life and struggle certainly took place. It really happened. But if you want to learn history from this film, you would rapidly be misled. The people, who made this film, told us a true story in an attractive form. They wanted to move our hearts and feelings and offer us a simple message: freedom is a great value. It is worth the sacrifice of your own life. This simple message was the goal of the filmmakers. And they achieved it. Their maybe an additional effect, if, like me, watching the film encouraged you to learn more about this period in Scottish history.
We encounter exactly the same when we are told about an important event. The speaker wants to make an impression, so he or she emphasizes some elements and avoids others, sometimes colours or opinions are added to achieve an effect.
The origin of biblical stories is exactly the same. The biblical authors didn’t write essays about biology, geology or history. They tell stories with a message, using a specific style to move the hearts and feelings of their audience. I’m not sure, what kind of star led the three wise men in today’s gospel. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the message: Christ has been born for all people: the people of Judea, the people of the Middle East, people from all continents and islands, people from all places in the universe. The message is simple and clear: Christ came for you.