THE BETHLEHEM SUPERNOVA

(An excerpt from the December 13, 1969 issue of the Philippine Free Press in an Article by Gregorio C. Brillantes)

(I wrote this article during my tender years, crossing my fingers hoping to pass a book report.)

The avalanche of the ideal foundation of this article did not evoked from an awe-stunning blight of a supernovatic-effect of a star. Rather, it started from an exodus of this paper-article from a dark and stingy compartment, kept perhaps as a valuable chronicle of things almost immemorial.

The pages of the paper almost collapsed even by the gentle caress of my fingers; signaling a surrender and exhaustion from a long vexation of time and matter.

Hence, from the cunning intent my mental faculty could give, I begun unearthing the lacklustered pages of the old magazine. I seemed to be a vagabond lost in every unfamiliar highways of its leaf. Till the curious ardor of my wondering consciousness was spellbounded by a generous article which spells - "The Bethlehem Supernova."

That article of Gregorio Brillantes hooked me up like a man hypnotized by a perfect stranger. I noticed myself pressing my nose against the faded pages of the magazine for several minutes.

For some time now, we will plunge into retrospection of this awe-inspiring phenomenon between the two grotesquely intertwined narrative accounts; the beautiful interplay of the theoretical exposé of the celestially based sciences and the literary brainchild of Arthur Clarke, a sci-fi of his short story - "The Star."

The scientific discipline broods of the theory, that after a few hundred years are consummated, a star in our galaxy will reach the edge of its glorious immortality. An infernal outburst of its searing chemical components exudes an overwhelming amount of light and radiation. Due to the exhaustion of its thermonuclear elements and processes, the sun tends to overheat, giving off a bedeviling temperature of seven billion degrees centigrade. The power chamber of the sun, which is its core, collapses, causing the outer envelope of the searing gaseous chemical to rush in, forming a highly insufferable concentration. Soon thereafter, a critical stage is reached. The high concentration undergoes chain reaction, ending a star breathing-off its last thermonuclear sinews.

However, before the star shrinks into an "insignificant" white dwarf, it will first paint the abode of heavens with rich thick clouds of luminous gases. Afterwards, a signature of an oblivious retire follows. The Nebula, which astronauts later capture epitomized the remains of the said cataclysm.

The next story is comparatively a sequel of the previous account. However, it is just being exemplified in a sci-fi celestial fantasy. This is the story of "The Star," courtesy of a, perhaps, fictitious intellectual sleigh of an author Arthur Clarke. This story as told, might have been a grotesque enterprise of a Christmas story, of the manifestation of an Intelligence beyond human arrest, and a test of faith - all brought about by the explosion of a certain star, we opt to quote as "The Bethlehem Supernova."

After a said stellar outburst, a Jesuit priest-scientist, an astrophysicist by specialization, had just retreated from an expedition to a pro-chaotic remnant, the nebula. The Jesuit scientist (the narrator and character in the story), though reluctant to admit, had with them viable data from the mission to phoenix nebula. Together with them were scrolls of photographs that captured the panorama of the mission. They are unconsciously expecting to discover a 'last standing planet' circling the exhausted star at a considerable range - the 'Pluto prototype' of this vanished solar system.

Upon surveillance, they were stunned to discover archives of a long-before existing civilization. It was immortalized by the artifacts and intelligent remains nestled in that planet. The "vault," that they call, encased the signature of a relatively human-like civilization that existed just before the cataclysm - or even advanced and brilliant than what we have.

The 'monolithic marker', which was engrossed on the entrance of the vault and the pylon, gave additional weight to the objective evidence of the doomed civilization. They must have been given an ample time to prepare; the sun just have warn them of the imminent end they will meet.

The fruit of their genius were all brought to this distant planet in a hope that they will never too soon be forgotten. They might even trumpeted to the whole macrocosmic vicinity, especially to the whole human kingdom, which are at least relatively aware of this fact, that indeed, we don't have the monopoly of an intelligent and conscious existence in this splendid valley.

The magnificent aura of their civilization was projected against the disconcerted being of the earth through thousands of visual records and machines preserved inside the secured ambit; records that present a tough sophistication of a civilization superior than of our own.

The priest scientist would helplessly sigh in bitter confusion bugging his soul: "even if they had not been disturbingly human as their sculpture showed, we could not have helped admiring them and grieving for their fate."

How can we reconcile this to the mercy of God?

It might be common as grass for the people and cultures of the earth to come and go. But to be vanquished from a full flourishing civilization without survivors at all - would be unthinkable. The atheist co-worker of the Jesuit-scientist says these things happen because there is no divine justice - God does not exist.

But the Jesuit-scientist, perhaps, from the repugnance of a bitter anguish and retaliation from the smog that put his faith into the crucible, took a stiff heads up, hailed his being saying to himself, "God indeed needs not explain His actions to His creatures."

There must be a time that as humans even the firmest faith may falter because of the weight of the dilemma pressing against ones shoulders.

Being an advocate not only of religious acumen but of scientific as well, he had calibrated the exact moment when the colossal conflagration reached the earth. It just have reached the earth before the dawn somewhere in the East - when and where Jesus is about to be born.

The supernova, through the instrumentality of the exceptional star that shines triumphantly in the night sky before the sunrise, serves as beacon and a guiding light for the Three Kings that would give praise and honor to His majesty, our savior Jesus Christ.

"But O God, there were so many stars you could have used, what was the need to give these people to the fire, that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem," cried the disconcerted Jesuit priest. But again, can we compel God to justify his deeds over us, though it might seem crazy in our own opinion?

Is it that God valued earthlings more than those doomed civilization? (They're isn't too evil perhaps?) If not, then what is that sublime reality calling God to plunge this civilization on the furnace just to give the passing of these Three Kings a compass on their nocturnal journey?

We may for some instance in our life accuse God of putting us into the crucible and question him of such like a culprit at large.

The stories, if we remember, are conglomeration of factual and fictitious accounts. However, no matter how factual or fictitious those narratives may be, it nevertheless, conveys sublime reality - God's love to the whole human civilization.

First, he made a 'sacrificial lamb' through the agency of the distant doomed civilization in behalf of us his beloved sinful civilization. Second, and the greatest of these, God sends forth His only begotten and precious son to be subjected to human civilization. To be accused though innocent, to be killed in behalf of our own transgression over the divine justice, and to be resurrected to arrest human civilization from the doom akin to the fate of the distant civilization.

Lastly, we may never be able to capsulate the plans and thoughts of God, yet his love is a reality beyond all telling and mark of any reasonable doubt.

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