On Feast of Epiphany

«The Magi’s Worship: Fulfillment of Scriptures»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Angelus from the window of his study with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, namely, his manifestation to the Gentiles, represented by the Wise Men, mysterious people who came from the East, of which the Gospel according to Matthew speaks (Matthew 2:1-12). The Magi’s worship of Jesus was recognized immediately as fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures. «And nations shall come to your light,» we read in the Book of Isaiah, «and kings to the brightness of your rising. … They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord» (Isaiah 60:3,6). The light of Christ, which the cave of Bethlehem contained, today expands in all its universal splendor. My thoughts go particularly to the beloved brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches who, following the Julian calendar, celebrate today holy Christmas: I address to them my most cordial greetings of peace and goodness in the Lord.

It seems spontaneous to recall today World Youth Day. Last August, it gathered in Cologne more than 1 million young people, who raised as their motto the Magi’s words in reference to Jesus: «We Have Come to Worship Him» (Matthew 2:2). How many times we have heard and repeated them! Now we cannot hear them without returning spiritually to that memorable event that represented a genuine «epiphany.» In fact, the pilgrimage of young people in its most profound dimension, can be seen as an itinerary guided by the light of a «star,» by the light of faith. And today I want to extend to the whole Church the message that I then proposed to young people gathered on the banks of the Rhine River: «Open wide your hearts to God; let yourselves be astonished by Christ! Open the doors of your freedom to his merciful love! Show Christ your joys and sorrows, allowing him to illuminate your mind with his light and touch your hearts with his grace» (Address of Aug. 18, 2005).

I would like the entire Church to breathe, as in Cologne, the atmosphere of «epiphany,» and of genuine missionary commitment aroused by the manifestation of Christ, light of the world, sent by God the Father to reconcile and unify humanity with the force of love. With this spirit, let us pray with fervor for full Christian unity so that their testimony will become the leaven of communion for the whole world. For this reason, let us invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope said:]

On the feast of the Epiphany, Children’s Missionary Day is celebrated, established by Pope Pius XII, of happy memory. With the theme «Children Help Children,» thousands of initiatives of solidarity are supported by the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood, teaching children to grow with a spirit of openness to the world and of attention to the difficulties of their more underprivileged contemporaries. For my ministry, I also count on the prayer of children and on their active participation in the mission of the Church.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. The Epiphany of Our Lord is the manifestation of Jesus as the divine Savior for people of all races and nations. May Christians everywhere deepen their personal communion with Christ, and bear constant witness to the Gospel of God’s universal love!

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