The Mass of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord was celebrated this Friday, January 6 by Pope Francis, in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Starting from the experience of the Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, the Holy Father indicated in his homily the three places “where Christ loves to be sought”, inviting the faithful to go there: the anxiety of questioning, the risk of the journey and the wonder of adoration.
Christian Kombe, SJ – Vatican City
The celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord highlights the universal character of the salvation that Jesus brings to the world. Pope Francis underlined this at the beginning of his homily, delivered facing the altar of the confession of Saint Peter. “Like a rising star, Jesus comes to enlighten all peoples and illuminate the nights of humanitysaid Francis, before emphasizing the timeliness of the experience of the Magi. With them, “we also ask ourselves today: “Where is the newly born King of the Jews? Where then is the place where we can find and meet our Lord?»
The anxiety of questioning
The experience of the Magi tells us “the first place” where Christ loves to be sought: in “the anxiety of questioning“. Among these wise men from the East, the Pope notes, there is first of all “the concern of the questioner“. Of their wonder at the brilliance of a star jumpscares a question: “Where is the newly born?” And the Holy Father emphasizes that “the journey of faith begins when, with the grace of God, we give way to the restlessness that keeps us awake», takes us out of the comfort of our habits to allow ourselves to be questioned and questioned by the challenges of each day.
In these moments, says François, we are inhabited by “those irrepressible questions that open us to the search for God: where is happiness for me? Where is the full life that I yearn for? Where is this love which does not pass, which does not weaken, which does not break, even in the face of fragility, failures and betrayals? What opportunities are hidden in my crises and sufferings?»
However, challenges the Sovereign Pontiff, our world very often offers us “soul tranquilizers“, who seek to “to calm our worries and turn off these questions; from consumer products to the seductions of pleasure, from spectacular debates to the idolatry of well-being», points out François, “everything seems to tell us: don’t think too much, let it happen, enjoy life!“Faced with this temptation to take refuge”in the safe of comfort“, the experience of the Magi shows us on the contrary that God “lives our worried questionsand it is there that, like them, we can meet him.
The risk of the journey
After the anxiety of the questioning, “the second place where we can meet the Lord is the risk of the journey”, indicates the Successor of Peter. “Questions, including spiritual oneshe explains, can indeed induce frustration and desolation if they do not set us in motion, if they do not orient our inner movement towards the face of God and the beauty of his Word“. The Magi do not stop either at the contemplation of the star or at questioning, “but they venture on a risky journey that does not plan in advance safe routes or definite maps“. They start walking.
Likewise, “without a continuous journey and a constant dialogue with the Lord, without listening to the Word, without persevering“our faith”can’t grow“says the Holy Father. Believers are people who are on the move. “From Abraham setting out for an unknown land to the Magi moving behind the star, faith is a journey, a pilgrimage, a story of departures and new beginnings.“, insisted the bishop of Rome. So he warns, we cannot lock up the faith”in a personal devotion nor confine it within the walls of the churches, but it must be carried outside, lived in a constant journey towards God and towards the brothers“. The Pope therefore invited everyone to ask themselves: “am I walking towards the Lord of life, so that He becomes the Lord of my life? Jesus, who are you to me? Where are You calling me to go, what are You asking of my life? What choices are You inviting me to make for others?»
The wonder of worship
Finally, Francis highlighted a third place to encounter the Lord: “the wonder of worship“. It is again the experience of the Magi that indicates this to us. “After a long journey and a laborious search, the Magi entered the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and, falling at his feet, they worshiped him“. For the Sovereign Pontiff,this is the decisive point: our worries, our questions, our spiritual paths and our practices of faith must converge towards the adoration of the Lordbecause that’s where their center of gravity is. Worship reminds us that “the goal of everything is not to achieve a personal goal or to receive glory for oneself, but to encounter God and let oneself be embraced by his love, which founds our hope, which frees us from evil, which opens us to the love of others, which makes us people capable of building a fairer and more fraternal world“explains Pope Francis. While we have forgotten the meaning of worship, the experience of the Magi invites us to put Jesus at the center in the wonder of worship. “Let us worship God and not our self; let us adore God and not the false idols which seduce us with the charm of prestige and power; let us worship God so as not to bow to passing things and seductive but empty logics of evil“, urged Francis.
The Pope concluded his homily by inviting us not to let “extinguish in us the anxiety of questioning“, not to stop “our walk yielding to apathy or comfort; and meeting the Lord“, abandon us “to the wonder of adoration“. This is how we will discover, he assures us,may a light illuminate even the darkest nights: it is Jesus, the radiant morning star, the sun of justice, the merciful radiance of God, who loves every man and every people on earth“.