(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica, to mark the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the three Wise Men of whose journey to meet and worship the newborn Christ the day’s Gospel reading, taken from the Gospel according to St Matthew, recounts.
“The wise men,” said Pope Francis, “are models of conversion to the true faith, since they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendour of power.”
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They were not without their trials and tribulations along their way, though even in the face of great temptation – by worldly wisdom, riches and power, and by simple human frailty – the Magi never failed in faith. “Led by the Spirit,” explained the Holy Father, “they come to realize that God’s criteria are quite different from those of men, that God does not manifest Himself in the power of this world, but speaks to us in the humbleness of his love.”
Pope Francis encouraged the faithful and all persons of good will to pray that God should allow each of us to undergo that same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men. “Let us ask Him to protect us and to set us free from the temptations which hide the star,” he said, “to let us always feel the troubling question: ‘Where is the star?’, whenever – amid the deceptions of this world – we lose sight of it; to let us know ever anew God’s mystery, and not to be scandalized by the ‘sign’ which points to ‘a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger’ (Lk 2:12), and to have the humility to ask the Mother, our Mother, to show Him to us; to find the courage to be liberated from our illusions, our presumptions, our ‘lights’, and to seek this courage in the humility of faith and in this way to encounter the Light, like the holy wise men.”
This theme of searching in faith, under the guidance of the Spirit, was one to which the Holy Father returned in his remarks ahead of the Angelus prayer with pilgrims and tourists gathered beneath the window of the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, in St Peter’s Square, under a crystalline noonday Roman sky. “The Magi testify that Jesus came to earth to save not one people, but all peoples,” said Pope Francis. “Therefore, in today's feast our gaze broadens to encompass the whole world, that everyone everywhere might celebrate the ‘manifestation’ of the Lord to all people, that is, the manifestation of God’s love and of the universal salvation,” He offers through His son.
Pope Francis also had special greetings for the Christians of the East. “On this day of Epiphany,” he said, “our thoughts also go to our Christian brothers and sisters, Catholic and Orthodox, many of whom shall tomorrow celebrate the Lord's birth.”
He also recalled that the Solemnity of the Epiphany is also the World Day of World Day of Missionary Childhood – one of the Pontifical Mission Societies that is especially geared to harnessing the zeal of children for spreading the Good News of salvation. “It is a celebration of children who live with joy the gift of faith and pray that the light of Jesus might reach all the children of the world,” Pope Francis said, concluding with a word of exhortation: “I encourage educators to cultivate in little ones the missionary spirit, so that there may arise from among them witnesses of the tenderness of God and announcers of his love.”