Our Lord said, “When it is evening, you say, it will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning: today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3, DRV).

Some of the Lord’s sayings are a puzzle, but we heed them nonetheless.

Speaking of signs, there are moments during the liturgical year that prompt me to reflect about “signs of the times”. For example, what is the Star of Bethlehem? A sign of the times? None more. A Protestant lawyer, Rick Larson, endeavoured to clarify its identity (bethlehemstar.com). He coordinated historical references, Scripture and sophisticated astronomy tools (starrynighteducation.com) to review the heavens during the lead-up to the strongest candidate years for the Lord’s birth. He watched the retrograde motions of planets around key stars in certain constellations, and their rare conjunction to form a spectacular heavenly sight, viewed at Jerusalem in the direction of Bethlehem.

Larson also studied possible dates of Our Lord’s crucifixion on that first Good Friday. On one candidate date, the moon rose in the phase of bloody red eclipse as the Lord would have died. With the aforementioned online astronomy tools, you can view the same eclipse, but from the moon, an eclipse of the Sun by the Earth, in the constellation of the Ram (the “lamb”).

Did Larson solve the puzzles conclusively? Perhaps not. But he paid attention to the signs.

Does God talk to us of signs of the times also through his beautiful celestial clock?

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