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On the Epiphany

“To All Those Who Seek Truth, We Must Offer the Word of God”

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, the solemnity of the Epiphany, before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to all peoples, represented by the Magi, who arrived in Bethlehem from the East to pay tribute to the King of the Jews, whose birth they learnt about by the appearance of a new star in the sky (cf. Matthew 2:1-12). 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 laying in the manger. The coming of the Messiah, awaited by the people as foretold by the prophets, remained thus initially in concealment.

Until, in fact, those mysterious personages — the Magi — arrived in Jerusalem to ask news about the “king of the Jews,” born a short time ago. Obviously, as it was about a king, they went to the royal palace where Herod resided. But he did not know anything about this birth and, very worried, he immediately convoked the priests and scribes who, based on the famous prophecy of Micah (cf. 5:1), affirmed that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. And in fact, going out again in that direction, the Magi saw the star again, which led them to the place where Jesus was. Having entered, they prostrated themselves and adored him, offering him symbolic gifts: gold, incense and myrrh. See the epiphany, the manifestation: 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. 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?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This 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. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians 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” (1 John 5:20).

Once again, we feel in ourselves a profound gratitude to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is the perfect image of the Church which gives the world the light of Christ: she is the Star of evangelization. “Respice Stellam,” Saint 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.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

I address my heartfelt greeting and most fervent wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches that tomorrow celebrate Holy Christmas. May the goodness of God, appearing in Jesus Christ, incarnate Word, reinforce in all faith, hope and charity, and give comfort to the communities that are being tested.

I remind then that Epiphany is the Missionary Day of Children, proposed by the Pontifical Work of Holy Childhood. So many children and youngsters, organized in parishes and schools, form a spiritual and solidaristic network to help their contemporaries in greatest difficulty. 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!

[Translation by ZENIT] [In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. On this, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church rejoices in the revelation of Jesus Christ as the light of all peoples. May the light of Christ’s glory fill you and your families with joy, strengthen Christians everywhere in their witness to the Gospel, and lead all mankind to the fullness of truth and life which God alone can give. Upon all of you, and in a special way upon the children present, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2011 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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