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Epiphany of the Lord - Pope Francis

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! Today we celebrate the Lord’s Epiphany, namely, the manifestation of Jesus, who shines as light for all peoples. Symbol of this light, which shines in the world and

wishes to illuminate the life of each one, is the star that guided the Magi to Bethlehem. The Gospel says that they saw “His star” (Matthew 2:2) and chose to follow it: they chose to be guided by Jesus’ star.

In our life there are also different stars, lights that shine and orientate. It is for us to choose which one we will follow. For instance, there are intermittent lights, which come and go, like the little satisfactions of life: even though good, they are not enough, because they last little and do not leave the peace we seek. Then there are the bright lights of the limelight, of money and success, which promise everything immediately: they are seductive, but they blind with their force and make one pass from dreams of glory to the densest darkness. Instead, the Magi invite us to follow a stable light, a gentle light, which does not set, because it is not of this world: it comes from Heaven and shines … where? In the heart.

This true light is the Lord’s light or, better, it is the Lord Himself. He is our light: a light that does not blind, but accompanies and gives a unique joy. This light is for all and calls each one: thus we can feel addressed to us today’s invitation of the prophet Isaiah: “Arise, shine” (60:1). So said Isaiah, prophesying this joy of today to Jerusalem: “Arise, shine.” We can accept this invitation at the beginning of every day: arise, shine, follow today — among the many falling stars in the world –, the luminous star of Jesus! By following it, we will have joy, as happened to the Magi, who “when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10); because where God is, there is joy. One who has encountered Jesus has experienced the miracle of light that tears the darkness and knows this light that illumines and enlightens.

I would like, with much respect, to invite all not to fear this light and to open themselves to the Lord. I would especially like to say to those who have lost the strength to seek, who are tired and overwhelmed by the obscurities of life, whose desire is spent: arise, courage, the light of Jesus is able to overcome the greatest darkness; arise, courage!

And how can this divine light be found? Let us follow the example of the Magi, which the Gospel describes as ever in movement. In fact, he who wants light comes out of himself and seeks: he does not remain closed, still, to look at what happens around him, but brings his own life into play; he comes out of himself. Christian life is a continuous journey, made of hope, and made of seeking; a journey that, like that of the Magi, also continues when the star disappears momentarily from sight. On this journey there are also snares that must be avoided: superficial and worldly gossip that halt the step; paralyzing whims of egoism; the holes of pessimism, which trap hope. These obstacles blocked the Scribes, of whom today’s Gospel speaks. They knew where the light was, but did not move. When Herod asked them: “Where is the Messiah to be born?” “At Bethlehem” [they answered]. They knew where, but did not move. There knowledge was vain: they knew so many things, but for nothing; everything was vain. It is not enough to know that God is born, if one does not birth Him in the heart. God is born, yes, but is He born in your heart? Is He born in my heart? Is He born in our heart? And so, like the Magi, we will find Him with Mary, Joseph, in the star.

The Magi did it: having found the Babe, “they prostrated themselves and adored Him” (v. 11). They did not just look at him, they did not just say a prayer of circumstance and go away, no, but they adored: they entered in a personal communion of love with Jesus. Then they gave Him gold, incense and myrrh, or their most precious goods. Let us learn from the Magi not to dedicate to Jesus only our spare time and a thought every now and then, otherwise we will not have His light. As the Magi, let us get underway, clothed in light following the star of Jesus, and let us adore the Lord with our whole selves.

After the Angelus 

Tomorrow, the ecclesial communities of the East, which follow the Julian Calendar, will celebrate Holy Christmas. In a spirit of joyous fraternity I hope that the new birth of the Lord Jesus fills them with light and peace.

The Epiphany is the Day of Missionary Childhood. I encourage all children and young people, who in so many parts of the world are committed to taking the Gospel and to helping their contemporaries in difficulty. I greet those who came today from Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, and I thank the Pontifical Work of Missionary Childhood for this educational service.

I greet the participants in the historic-folkloric procession, which this year is dedicated to the lands of southern Umbria and which intends to spread the values of solidarity and brotherhood.

I greet the groups that have come from Malta, from California and from Poland, and I extend my blessing to the participants in the great procession of the Magi Kings, which is held in Warsaw with so many families and so many children.

I greet the faithful of Ferrara, Correggio, Ruvo di Pugia, Robecco sul Naviglio and Cucciago, as well as the candidates for Confirmation of Rosolina and of Romano di Lombardia, the ministers of the diocese of Asti, the youngsters of Cologno al Serio, and the friends and volunteers of the Fraterna Domus.

The Magi offered Jesus their gifts but, in reality, Jesus Himself is the true gift of God. He is, in fact, the God who gives Himself to us. In Him we see the merciful face of the Father who awaits us, receives us and always forgives us; the face of God who never treats us according to our works or according to our sins, but only according to the immensity of His inexhaustible mercy. And, speaking of gifts, I also thought of giving you a small gift …. the camels are missing, but I will give you a gift. The booklet “Icon of Mercy.” God’s gift is Jesus, the Father’s mercy, and so, to remember this gift of God, I will give you this gift, which will be distributed to you by the poor, the homeless and refugees together with many volunteers and Religious, whom I greet warmly and thank from my heart I wish you a year of justice, of forgiveness, of serenity but especially a year of mercy. It will help you to read this book: it fits in a pocket and you can take it with you. Please, you too, do not forget to give me the gift of your prayer. May the Lord bless you. Happy feast, have a good lunch and see you soon!