Isn't it strange that it should be King Herod who gave the best piece of advice anyone could give this time of year, that it should be, the brutal murderer of the babies of Bethlehem who spoke those words to the Magi, words which inspire us today as much as they encouraged them, 'Go and search diligently for the child'. Our God is full of surprises. We do not always find Him where we expect Him to be, and then, suddenly there comes a hint, a nudge, throw-away word or a piece of advice from Herod and there he is. Of all the characters in the Christmas Story, Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, the Angels, the Magi, Herod is not the one we'd single out as having anything to say to us, but there he is. 'Go and search diligently for the Child.' We know of course that Herod, far from wanting to follow on and offer his own homage as he would have the Magi believe, plotted to do away with the child as soon as they found Him. Any rival to the throne was to be got rid of. He went to great trouble 'assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people' to find out about this king that the magi had discovered through the stars. Then he sent them on the road to Bethlehem.
The three wise men took the advice and followed the directions given by Herod. They found the one they were looking for in the place Herod sent them. It was the end of their long search and it was the beginning of another journey. They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod and they went back 'by another way.' When we meet Jesus the direction of our life is changed.
'We know that all things work for good for those who love God.' (Rom.8:28). All things-even the advice of enemies, even the bad things done to you and me. This can be hard to believe when your dreams lie shattered at your feet and you feel that your life is under a curse and not under a blessing, or you've taken a wrong direction and made a mess of things. God you think has little time for the likes of me! Well that's where you are all wrong, and if you want proof, take Herod's advice and 'Go and search diligently for the child.' Go down the road of your heart and look for Him there. Speak to Him in your heart and quietly become aware of how much loved you are. Search for Him in your own heart, yes, but not only there.
You don't have to go to Bethlehem today to bring your gifts to the child. Bring them to your family, the lonely neighbour, the people you work with, your community, the backward child, and you bring them to Him. The child is also searching for you. He never gives us 'Behold I stand at the door and knock.' He is the one who understands you, does not judge you, does not condemn you, however much you have strayed.
Let us take Herod's advice this Christmas. Let us search 'diligently' for Jesus. Search for Him beyond all the hectic preparations; the shopping, the parties, the feasting and the fun. Let us look for the Child with all our hearts. We can be sure that like the Magi we will find Him 'with Mary His Mother.'