SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
St. Peter's Square
Monday, January 6, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany, in memory of the Magi who came from the East to Bethlehem, following the star, to visit the newborn Messiah. At the end of the Gospel story, the Magi are said to have been "warned in a dream not to return to Herod, by another way they returned to their country" (v. 12). For another way.
These wise people, coming from distant regions, after traveling a lot, find the one who wished to know, after having searched for him for a long time, certainly also with hardships and vicissitudes. And when they finally reach their goal, they prostrate themselves before the Child, adore him, offer him their precious gifts. After which they set off again without delay to return to their land. But that meeting with the Child changed them.
The encounter with Jesus does not hold back the Magi, on the contrary, it infuses them with a new push to return to their country, to tell what they have seen and the joy they have felt. In this there is a demonstration of the style of God, of his way of manifesting himself in history. The experience of God does not block us, but frees us; it does not imprison us, but puts us back on the road, returns us to the usual places of our existence. The places are and will be the same, but we, after the encounter with Jesus, are not the same as before. The encounter with Jesus changes us, transforms us. Matthew the evangelist stresses that the Magi returned "by another way" (v. 12). They are led to change direction by the angel's warning, so as not to run into Herod and his plots of power.
Each experience of meeting with Jesus leads us to take different paths, because from him comes a good force that heals the heart and detaches us from evil.
There is a wise dynamic between continuity and novelty: you return "to your country", but "by another way". This indicates that it is we who have to change, to transform our way of life even in the usual environment, to change the criteria for judging the reality around us. Here is the difference between the true God and the treacherous idols, such as money, power, success ...; between God and those who promise to give you these idols, like magicians, fortune tellers, sorcerers. The difference is that idols bind us to themselves, make us idol-dependent, and we take possession of them. The true God neither holds us back nor lets himself be held back by us: he opens up ways of novelty and freedom, because He is the Father who is always with us to make us grow. If you meet Jesus, if you have a spiritual encounter with Jesus, remember: you must go back to the same places as always, but in another way, with another style. It is so, it is the Holy Spirit, which Jesus gives us, which changes our heart.
We ask the Holy Virgin that we can become witnesses of Christ where we are, with a new life transformed by his love.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I address a special thought to the brothers of the Eastern, Catholic and Orthodox Churches, many of whom celebrate the Lord's Christmas tomorrow. For them and their communities we wish the light and peace of Christ the Savior. We applaud our Orthodox and Catholic brothers from the Eastern Churches.
World Missionary Childhood Day is celebrated on Epiphany. It is the feast of missionary children and young people who live the universal call to holiness by helping their peers in need, through prayer and sharing gestures. Let us pray for them.
I extend my cordial welcome to all of you, Romans and pilgrims. Among these, I greet in particular those who came from South Korea and the students of the Franciscan Institute "Siena College" in New York; as well as the missionary group of Biassono and the faithful of Ferrara.
A special greeting goes to all those who give life to the historical-folkloric procession, inspired by the traditions of the Epiphany and dedicated this year to the territory of Allumiere and the Mignone Valley. And I also extend it to the procession of the Magi in numerous cities and villages in Poland. I like to greet many popular expressions related to today's festival - I think of Spain, Latin America, Germany - customs that must be kept in their genuine Christian meaning.
I wish you all a happy feast. And please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
Full Text Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation