VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on the solemnity of the Epiphany.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, his manifestation to the peoples of the whole world, represented by the Magi who came from the East to pay homage to the king of the Jews. Observing celestial phenomena, these mysterious persons saw a new star rise and, instructed as well by the ancient prophecies, recognized in it the sign of the birth of the Messiah, descendant of David (cf. 2:1-2). From its first appearance, then, the light of Christ began to draw to itself the men “whom God loves” (Luke 2:14), of every language, people and culture. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that moves hearts and minds to seek truth, beauty, justice, peace.
The Servant of God John Paul II affirmed this in his encyclical “Fides et Ratio”: “[M]en and women are on a journey of discovery which is humanly unstoppable — a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves” (No. 33): The magi found both of these realities in the child of Bethlehem.
Men and women of every generation, in this their pilgrimage, have need of direction: What star, then, can they follow? After coming to rest “above the place where the child was” (Matthew 2:9), the star that guided the Magi had completed its function, but its spiritual light is ever present in the word of the Gospel, which today too is capable of guiding every man to Jesus. That same word, which is nothing if not the reflection of Christ, true man and true God, is authoritatively echoed by the Church for every well-disposed soul. The Church too, for this reason, carries out for humanity the mission of the star. But something of this sort can be said of every Christian, called to help guide the steps of his brothers by word and the witness of his life.
How important it is, then, that we Christians are faithful to our vocation! Every authentic believer is always on a journey in his personal itinerary of faith and, at the same time, with the little light that he carries in himself, can and must be of help to those he finds at his side and who perhaps have difficulty finding the road that leads to Christ.
As we prepare to say the Angelus, I offer my most cordial greetings to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who, following the Julian calendar, celebrate holy Christmas tomorrow: It is a great joy to share in the celebration of the mysteries of faith, in the multiform riches of the rites that attest to the bi-millennial history of the Church.
Together with the Christian communities of the East, very devoted to the Holy Mother of God, we invoke Mary’s protection of the universal Church, so that the Gospel of Christ spread throughout the whole world, “Lumen Gentium,” light of all peoples.[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In Italian, he said:]
Today the World Day of Missionary Childhood is celebrated. For more than 160 years, through the initiative of the French bishop Charles de Forbin Janson, the childhood of Jesus has become the icon for the commitment of Christian children who help the Church in her task of evangelization by prayer, sacrifice and gestures of solidarity.
Thousands of children meet the needs of other children, driven by the love that the Son of God, become a child, brought to the earth. I say thanks to these little ones and I pray that they will always be missionaries. I also thank those who assist them, who accompany them along the road of generosity, of fraternity, of joyous faith that generates hope.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, he said:]
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Epiphany when our Lord made himself known to the Gentiles. Christ continues to manifest himself to men and women of all nations inviting them to share in the inheritance of grace. Let us all cooperate in this task and bear joyful witness to Jesus our Saviour by following closely his teachings and example. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a happy Feast Day!
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