The Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs.
Now, we know perfectly well that neither the Kessel Run, nor the Millennium Falcon, actually exist. But when Harrison Ford expressed his surprise that Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill did not know about his ship’s twelve-parsec run, we breathed in some air from a believably unified galaxy, a place that felt like real human beings lived there—with funny droids to help them, and lots of other intelligent species to deal with, like jawas and wookies.
And: something was afoot. The history of the galaxy moved forward, towards something—either a dreadful, or a hopeful, outcome. The choices that the characters sitting at the table talking about the Kessel Run would make: those choices would affect the unfolding of history.
Not to spoil anything for anyone who still intends to try to enjoy the new movie. But the 2017 movie doesn’t have a single line that comes within a hundred miles of the believability of Han Solo’s 1977 Kessel-Run line. And at the end of “The Last Jedi,” we have no choice but to face the unhappy truth: Star Wars has become just another superhero-movie series. It will now go around in circles forever, and none of it will ever mean anything. The history of the Star-Wars galaxy has stopped moving forward at all.
Now, why do I bring this up on the day when, at Holy Mass, we read about St. Joseph learning about, and accepting, God’s plan for his beautiful fiancée? Because St. Joseph had a Christian sense of history, as opposed to a pagan sense of endless, meaningless repetition.
It’s not just that the Holy Bible reads like 1,200 pages of Kessel-Run lines. No one ever claimed that the Sacred Scriptures make for easy readying. But they are utterly believable. Dilettante intellectuals who have never actually read a single full page of the Bible love to lump it among the pagan myths. But nothing could be further from the truth. The pagan myths are enchanting, mindless popcorn flicks like “The Last Jedi.” The Bible drags the reader through the tortured reality of 2,000 years of real human experience on this actual planet.
But my main point is this: When the angel visited St. Joseph, the humble carpenter already knew something very important about what the passing of time means. He knew the Scriptures of Israel and believed in God, so St. Joseph was fully aware that the history of the world is not going in a circle. Time moves forward. Everything that happens has consequences—meaningful consequences. Everything that is now—all of it has a history. And that history explains why it is the way it is now. Time will have a final resolution; it will come to an end—an end that will make perfect sense, when we reach it.
And that end will either be utterly dreadful or perfectly wonderful. It will either be a million times worse than if Luke never had the courage to leave Tatooine at all, and Darth Vader ruled the galaxy with a functioning Death Star. Or it will be like Han and Leia reigning as benign, humane monarchs over an everlasting Ewok party.
These are the two options for the history of the human beings in this world. And the difference between the one and the other is the Babe of Bethlehem.