The Magi, who followed "a light" to find "the Light", told us "not settle for an ordinary life, one of 'coasting'." Instead, they called on us to experience "the joy of evangelising" and "of being drawn by what is good, true, and beautiful . . . by God, who is all this ever more".
today during the Mass in St Peter's Basilica and the Angelus before more
100,000 people in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis, in
his reflections, said that Epiphany means not being fooled by
appearances or following the path of power, but having instead the "holy
cunning" that allows one to keep the faith.
he said before the Angelus prayer, "we
celebrate Epiphany, the 'Lord's manifestation'. This Solemnity is
linked to the biblical story of
the Magi who came from the East to
Bethlehem to pay homage to the King
of the Jews, an episode Pope Benedict beautifully commented in his book
on Jesus' childhood. That was in fact Christ's first 'manifestation'
to the Gentiles. Thus, Epiphany emphasises the universality of the
salvation Jesus brought. As
today's liturgy says, 'All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O
During the Mass,
the Holy Father noted that the Magi "followed faithfully that light that filled
their hearts" and "encountered the Lord." Hence, "The destiny of every person
is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey,
illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth
and of love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World."
tells us that the Magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, lost sight of
for a time. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King
that dwelling was gloomy, filled with darkness, suspicion, fear. Herod,
fact, proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a
Child whom he thought of as a rival. In reality, Jesus came not to
a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world!
king and his counsellors sensed that the foundations of their power were
crumbling. They feared that the rules of the game were being turned
upside-down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built
power, on success and on possessions was being thrown into crisis by a
Herod went so far as to kill the children.
As Saint Quodvultdeus wrote,
destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your
heart.' And thus, he was afraid and because of this fear he went mad."
"darkness of worldliness"
obscured the view of the star for a while, far from that negative influence
the Magi found the light and
the way to Bethlehem. Thus, the Pope stressed an aspect of what the Wise
Men from the East did when they
went home, namely the "holy cunning"
that led them away from Herod's trap.
"One aspect of
the light which guides us in the journey of faith is holy 'cunning', that spiritual
shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and to avoid it. The Magi used
this light of 'cunning' when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the
gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East
teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend
ourselves from the shadows that seek to envelop our life."
"With such 'holy cunning', they kept the faith. We too
should shield the faith. Shield it from that darkness, one that is often disguised as light, right? Because the devil, as St.
Paul said, dresses up as an angel of
light, sometimes. This is where 'holy cunning' is necessary, to shield
the faith, shield it from the siren
calls that say: Look, today we have to do this, that . . .' Faith is a grace,
a gift. It is up to us to shield this
'holy cunning' through
prayer, love, and charity.
We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, cultivate
that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as
Jesus told his disciples: 'Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves'."
fact," the pope said during the Angelus, "this festivity shows a double movement:
on the one hand, the movement of
God towards the world, towards
humanity, i.e. the whole history of salvation, which culminates in
Jesus; on the other hand, humanity's movement towards God - think about
religions, the quest for truth,
the nations' journey towards peace,
justice, and freedom. This double movement is driven by mutual attraction. On God's part, it is
love for us: we are his children; he loves us, and wants to free us from evil,
disease, death, and bring us into his home, his Kingdom. 'God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with
him.' For our part, there is also
love and desire: Goodness draws us; truth draws us; life, happiness, beauty . . . .
Jesus is the meeting point of this mutual attraction and
this dual movement. He is God and man.
But the initiative is God's."
love comes before ours! Jesus is God who became man, was incarnate, and
was born for us. The new star that appeared to the Magi was the sign of
Christ's birth. Had they not seen the star, those men would not have
left. Light goes before us; truth goes before us; beauty goes before us.
God goes before us: he is
grace. And this grace appeared
in Jesus. He is the
epiphany, the manifestation
of God's love. The whole Church is
in this movement of God towards the world: The gospel is its joy;
it reflects Christ's light. The Church
is the people of those who experienced
this attraction and carry it within, in the heart and in life."
God, on behalf of the whole Church,
for the joy of evangelising,
because it was 'sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the
love of God to all men and nations'. May the
Virgin Mary help us all be disciples-missionaries, little stars that
reflect her light. Let us pray that hearts shall open to welcome the
announcement, and that all men come
to be "co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through
the Angelus, the pope turned his thoughts to "the
brothers and sisters of the Eastern
Churches that celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May the peace God gave
humanity with the birth of Jesus, the Word Incarnate, strengthen in
everyone faith, hope,
and charity, and give comfort to Christian
communities at a time of trial."