Who Is This Jesus?

Benedict XVI Reflects on News of the Birth of Christ

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Before the arrival of the Wise Men to the Bethlehem cave, the birth of the Son of God was known to only a few family members and some poor shepherds. With the visit of the Magi, however, the question of Jesus’ identity began to spread.

This was the reflection made today by Benedict XVI when he addressed crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray with him the midday Angelus on this feast of the Epiphany.

«In fact, before the arrival of the Magi, knowledge of this event was little known beyond the family circle: In addition to Mary and Joseph, and probably other relatives, it was known by the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, hearing the joyful announcement, went to see the baby while he was still lying in the manger,» the Pope noted.

Hence, the Holy Father said, «the coming of the Messiah, awaited by the people as foretold by the prophets, remained thus initially in concealment.»

When the Wise Men visited Herod with their question about the birthplace of the newborn King of the Jews, it was then that news of this birth began to spread.

«The coming and the adoration of the Magi is the first sign of the singular identity of the son of God, who is also son of the Virgin Mary,» the Pontiff noted. «From now on the question began to be propagated that would accompany the whole life of Christ, and which in different ways goes across the centuries: Who is this Jesus?»

Proposing this question to the hearts of men is the mission of the Church, Benedict XVI suggested.

«This,» he said, «is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love.»

Like the star

The Pope further reflected that Epiphany also indicates how the Church is to carry out its mission: «reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word.»

«Christians,» he said, «are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of God. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus ‘the true God and eternal life.'»

In this context, the Pontiff spoke of a «profound gratitude to Mary.»

«She is the perfect image of the Church which gives the world the light of Christ,» he said. «She is the Star of evangelization. ‘Respice Stellam,’ St. Bernard says to us: Look at the Star, you who go in search of truth and peace; turn your gaze to Mary, and she will show you Jesus, light for every man and for all peoples.»

Missionary children

Benedict XVI also mentioned the Missionary Day of Children, celebrated on the feast of the Epiphany.

«So many children and youngsters, organized in parishes and schools, form a spiritual and solidaristic network to help their contemporaries in greatest difficulty,» he said. «It is very beautiful and important that children grow with a mentality open to the world, with sentiments of love and fraternity, overcoming egoism and consumerism.

«Dear children and youngsters, with your prayer and your commitment you collaborate with the mission of the Church. I thank you for this and I bless you!»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31375?l=english

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