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Angelus Address: On the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany

Like the Magi, “We Must also Allow Ourselves to Be Illumined by the Light of Christ that Comes from Bethlehem”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave January 6, 2019, the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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 Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany is the feast of Jesus’ manifestation, symbolized by light. This light is promised in the prophetic texts: light is promised. Isaiah, in fact, addresses Jerusalem with these words: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). The prophet’s invitation — to arise for the light is coming — seems surprising, because it is placed after the harsh exile and the numerous vexations that the people had experienced.

This invitation resounds also for us today, who have celebrated Jesus’ birth, and it encourages us to allow ourselves to be reached by the light of Bethlehem. We are also invited not to pause on the exterior signs of the event, but to set out from it again to follow in newness of life our path as men and believers.

The light that the prophet Isaiah had foretold is present and encountered in the Gospel. And Jesus, born in Bethlehem, city of David, came to bring salvation to those near and far. The evangelist Matthew shows different ways in which one can encounter Christ and react to His presence. Herod and the Scribes of Jerusalem, for instance, have a hard heart, which is obstinate and rejects that Child’s visit. It’s possible to close oneself to the light. They represent those, in our days also, who are afraid of Jesus’ coming and close their heart to brothers and sisters who are in need of help. Herod is afraid of losing power and doesn’t think of the true good of the people, but of his personal benefit. The Scribes and the leaders of the people are afraid because they are unable to look beyond their own certainties, thus being unable to receive the novelty that is in Jesus.

Very different, instead, is the experience of the Magi (Cf. Matthew 2: 1-12). Coming from the East, they represent all peoples far from the traditional Jewish faith. Yet they allow themselves to be guided by the star and face a long and risky journey to arrive at their destiny and know the truth about the Messiah. The Magi were open to the “novelty,” and to them was revealed the greatest and most surprising novelty of history: God made man. The Magi prostrated themselves before Jesus and offered Him symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, because the search for the Lord implies not only perseverance on the way, but also generosity of heart. And, finally, they returned “to their own country” (v. 12); and the Gospel says they returned “by another way.” Brothers and sisters, every time that a man or a woman encounters Jesus, he/she changes his/her way and returns to life in a different way, returns renewed, “by another way.”  They returned “to their country” bearing within them the mystery of that humble and poor King. We can imagine what they told everyone of the experience they lived: the salvation offered by God in Christ is for all men, near and far. It’s not possible to “take possession” of that Child: He is a gift for all.

We also must silence our heart somewhat and allow ourselves to be illumined by the light of Christ that comes from Bethlehem. We must not let our fears close our heart, but we must have the courage to open ourselves to this meek and discreet light. Then, like the Magi, we will experience “a very great joy” (v. 10), which we can’t keep for ourselves. May the Virgin Mary, Star that leads us to Jesus, and Mother who makes the Magi, and all those that approach Her see Jesus, support us on this way.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

  

After the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For several days, forty-nine people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea are on board two NGO ships, in search of a safe port where they can disembark. A heartfelt appeal goes to European leaders, to show concrete solidarity in dealing with this people.

Some Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, which follow the Julian calendar will celebrate Holy Christmas tomorrow. To them go my warm and fraternal good wishes in the sign of communion among all of us Christians, who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I wish them all a Happy Christmas!

Epiphany is also Children’s Mission Day, which this year invites the youngest missionaries to be “Jesus’ athletes,” to witness the Gospel in their family, school and fun places.

My warm greeting goes to all of you, individual pilgrims, families, parishes, and Associations, from Italy and from different countries. In particular, I greet the faithful of Marsala, Peveragno and San Martino in Rio, the Confirmation youngsters of Bonate Sotto and the “Fraterna Domus” group.

A special greeting goes to the historic and folkloric procession, which promotes the values of Epiphany and which this year is dedicated to the territory of the Abruzzi. I wish to recall also the procession of the Magi, which is being held in numerous cities of Poland, with the wide participation of families and Associations. And I also greet the musicians of the band that I heard play. Continue to sound the joy of this Day of the Epiphany.

I wish you all a happy feast. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Virginia Forrester

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