Plea on Epiphany

John Paul II Says, “Christianity Does Not Feel Foreign to the World”

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2004 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today, feast of the Epiphany, before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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1. In today’s feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Gospel of Matthew speaks of a mysterious “star,” which guided the Wise Men to Jerusalem and then Bethlehem, where they adored the Child Jesus (see 2:2,7,9,10).

The star, which led the Wise Men to Christ, recalls the rich symbolism of light, very present at Christmas. God is light, and the Word made man is “light of the world” (John 8:12), light that shows people the way: “Lumen gentium.”

2. This great truth inspired my venerable predecessor Paul VI when, exactly 40 years ago, he undertook his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Precisely on January 6, 1964, at Bethlehem, in the Basilica of the Nativity, he pronounced memorable words. Among other things, he said: “We look at the world with great affection. If the world feels it is foreign to Christianity, Christianity does not feel foreign to the world.” And he added that the mission of Christianity in the midst of humanity is a mission of friendship, understanding, encouragement, promotion, uplifting: a mission, that is, of salvation.

And from that place that saw the Prince of Peace being born, he exhorted leaders of nations to an ever-closer collaboration to “establish peace in truth, in justice, in liberty and in fraternal love.”

3. With all my heart I make my own these words of the Servant of God Paul VI, while invoking the intercession of Mary Most Holy, star of humanity on pilgrimage in time. “With the maternal help of Mary, may every man come to Christ, light of truth, so that the world may advance on the path of justice and peace.”

[Translation by ZENIT]

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