So I went in search of possible answers, and I found a marvelous sermon by Ron Brugler, pastor of the New Church of New York City. He examines for us the probable reasons that people from a time that was quite likely 6 B.C. would follow a configuration in the skies.
In the year 6 BC, over a three-month period the star Sirius aligned itself in a spectacular configuration with Mars and Jupiter. From this we can assume that the wise men saw it, and after studying what it meant, set off on their journey. Each night it confirmed that they were heading in the right direction. And finally, its fading radiance was seen over Bethlehem. These sightings spanned a three-month period, which is just about the length of time it would have taken to study it and travel from Babylonia to Jerusalem.
Brugler goes on to discuss what made these star-gazers wise:
In Biblical times, astrologers were people who believed that the stars were signs or reflections of special events on earth. These people studied the stars in a quest for knowledge. Wisdom was achieved through being aware of these events. When the wise men observed the appearance of the unusual star pattern, it set off a study as to what the configuration meant.
For those of us committed to lifelong learning, the wise men are inspiring beyond their religious symbolization. In Brugler's words:
The wise men, on the other hand, [when compared to the fearful shepherds] made the long difficult journey. Their quest had a depth and breadth that brought deeper rewards. They were not afraid of the darkness, for the light served them as a guide.
No matter which way you lean when it comes to religion, thinking of the light at the end of the tunnel, the diploma at the end of your studies, has the potential to lead and inspire you through the sometimes dark and challenging days of studying. Let the wise men inspire you.
Happy Holidays, and safe travels!