Like the Magi offered Baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh, we faithful are to offer three gifts to the Lord, says Pope Francis.
During his homily this morning at the Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope said that we are just as called to follow the light of Jesus today, to worship Him with all our heart, and present Him with our gifts of freedom, understanding and love.
The Pope began recalling the words of the Prophet Isaiah addressed to Jerusalem, but which, he noted, are also meant for us. When Isaiah says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you,” it also invites us to rise and go forth, leave behind all that keeps us self-enclosed, go out from ourselves and recognize the splendour of the light which illumines our lives.
Francis pointed out that this “light” is the glory of the Lord, for the Church “cannot illude herself into thinking that she shines with her own light.”
“Christ is the true light shining in the darkness,” he said, adding, “To the extent that the Church remains anchored in him, to the extent that she lets herself be illumined by him, she is able to bring light into the lives of individuals and peoples.”
The Holy Father underscored that we need this light from on high if we are to respond in a way worthy of the vocation we have received.
“To proclaim the Gospel of Christ is not simply one option among many, nor is it a profession. For the Church, to be missionary does not mean to proselytize: for the Church to be missionary means to give expression to her very nature, which is to receive God’s light and then to reflect it. This is her service. There is no other way.”
Mission, he pointed out, is the Church's vocation; “to shine Christ’s light is her service. How many people look to us for this missionary commitment, because they need Christ. They need to know the face of the Father.”
Reflecting on the Three Kings, the Pope said the Magi mentioned in Matthew's Gospel demonstrate that the seeds of truth are present everywhere and represent the men and woman throughout the world who are welcomed into the house of God.
No more restless hearts
The Pope stressed that the Church's service lies in its drawing out the desire for God present in every human heart. She has the task, he noted, of ever more clearly seeing and showing the desire for God which is present in the heart of every man and woman.
“Like the Magi, countless people, in our own day, have a 'restless heart' which continues to seek without finding sure answers – it is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit that stirs in hearts. They too are looking for a star to show them the path to Bethlehem,” the Pope said.
The Magi “followed a new and different star, which for them shone all the more brightly. They were seeking an answer to their questions and had restless hearts, and at long last, the light appeared and that star changed them.”
The Pope said it was the voice of the Holy Spirit, who works in all people, at work. “The star guided them, until they found the King of the Jews in a humble dwelling in Bethlehem.”
All this, Francis went on to say, has something to tell us today. He noted that we should also seek the Child, like the Magi, following his signs.
“We are impelled, especially in an age like our own, to seek the signs which God offers us, realizing that great effort is needed to interpret them and thus to understand his will. We are challenged to go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother,” he said.
Our three gifts
Pope Francis invited those gathered to follow the light which God offers, “the tiny light” of the Child, and once we have found Him, let us worship Him with all our heart, and present Him with our gifts: our freedom, understanding and love.
“True wisdom lies concealed in the face of this Child. It is here, in the simplicity of Bethlehem, that the life of the Church is summed up. For here is the wellspring of that light which draws to itself every individual in the world and guides the journey of the peoples along the path of peace.”
On ZENIT's Web page:
Pope's Full Homily: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-homily-for-solemnity-of-epiphany