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Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord 2014

Pope Francis's Homily at Holy Mass      
St Peter's Basilica, Monday, 6 January 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

“'Lumen requirunt lumine'. This striking expression from a liturgical hymn for the Epiphany refers to the experience of the Magi: by following a light, they sought the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and their hearts a light which moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi faithfully followed this light which pervaded them interiorly, and they encountered the Lord.

In this journey of the Magi of the East is
symbolized the destiny of every man: our life is a pathway, illuminated by the lights which shine on the road, to find the fullness of truth and love, which we Christians recognize in Jesus, Light of the World. And every man, like the Magi, has at his disposal two great “books” from which to draw the signs so as to orientate himself on the pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of Sacred Scripture. What is important is to be attentive, to watch, to listen to God who speaks to us, who always speaks to us. As the Psalm says, referring to the Law of the Lord: “Your word is a lamp to my steps, light on my pathway” (Ps 119:105). Especially listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment, allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience Him and his love.

The first reading echoes, through the prophet Isaiah, God's call to Jerusalem: “Arise, shine!” (Is 60:1). Jerusalem is called to be the city of light, which reflects
God’s light to the world and helps men to walk in his ways. This is the vocation and the mission of the People of God in the world. But Jerusalem can fail to respond to this call of the Lord. The Gospel tells us that the Magi, when they reached Jerusalem, lost sight of the star for a while. They no longer saw it. In particular, its light was absent in King Herod's palace: that dwelling was gloomy, in it reigned darkness, distrust, fear and envy. Herod, in fact, showed himself to be suspicious of and preoccupied by the birth of a fragile Child whom he perceived as a rival. In reality Jesus did not come to overthrow him, a miserable puppet, but the Prince of this world! Nevertheless, the king and his counsellors felt the scaffolding of their power cracking, they feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on dominion, on success, on having, on corruption, was being thrown into crisis by a Child! And Herod ended up by killing the children. “You kill the children in the flesh because fear is killing your heart” - wrote St Quodvultdeus (Sermo 2 de Symbolo: PL 40, 655). It was thus: Herod was afraid and by this fear he went mad.

The Magi were able to overcome this dangerous moment of obscurity near Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated Bethlehem as the place of the Messiah's birth. Thus they escaped the torpor of the night of the world, they resumed the road towards Bethlehem and there they saw once again the star, and the Gospel says that they experienced “a great joy” (Mt 2:10). This star which could not be seen in the darkness of the worldliness of that palace.

One aspect of the light which guides us on the pathway of faith is also holy “cunning”. This
is also a virtue, this holy “cunning”. It's a spiritual astuteness which enables us to recognize dangers and avoid them. The Magi knew to use this light of “cunning” when, on their way back, they decided not to pass by Herod's gloomy palace, but to go by another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the obscurity which seeks to envelop our lives. They, with this holy “cunning”, kept the faith. And we too must keep the faith. Keep it from this darkness. But, also, many times, a darkness disguised in light. Because the devil, says St Paul, at times dresses himself as an angel of light. And here holy “cunning” is necessary, so as to keep the faith, to keep it from the songs of the Sirens, who tell you: “Look, today we must do this, that...”. But faith is a grace, is a gift. It is up to us to keep it with this holy “cunning”, with prayer, with love, with charity. We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate this spiritual cunning which knows how to combine simplicity and astuteness, as Jesus asked his disciples: “Be wise as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt 10:16).

On the feast of the Epiphany, when we recall the manifestation of Jesus to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi close by our side, as wise companions on the road. Their example helps us to lift our gaze to the star and to follow the great desires of our hearts. They teach us not to content ourselves with a mediocre life, with “coasting it, playing it safe”, but to let ourselves
always be fascinated by what is good, true and beautiful… by God, who is all of this, in an always greater way! And they teach us not to let ourselves be deceived by appearances, by that which for the world is great, wise, powerful. We must not stop there. It is necessary to keep the faith. In these times this is so important: to keep the faith. We must go further, beyond the darkness, beyond the fascination of the Sirens, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today, to go to Bethlehem, there where, in the simplicity of a house on the periphery, between a mummy and daddy full of love and faith, shines forth the Sun come from on high, the King of the universe. Following the example of the Magi, may we, with our little lights, seek the Light and keep the faith. So be it."

Papa Francesco's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
6 January 2014 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today we are celebrating the Epiphany, that is, the “manifestation” of the Lord. This Solemnity is tied to the biblical narrative of the coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews: an episode on which Pope Benedict gave a magnificent commentary in his book on the infancy of Jesus. This precise moment was the first “manifestation” of Christ to the nations. Thus, the Epiphany brings to the fore the universal opening of the salvation brought by Jesus. The Liturgy today acclaims: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you”, because Jesus came for us all, for every nation, for everyone!

Thus, this Feast lets us see a double movement: in one direction, the movement of God towards the world, towards humanity — the whole of the history of salvation, which culminates in Jesus — and in the other, the movement of men towards God — let us think of religions, of the quest for truth, the journey of the nations toward peace, interior peace, justice, freedom. And this double movement is driven by a mutual attraction. What is it that draws God? It is love for us: we are his children, he loves us and wants to free us from evil, from sickness, from death, and to bring us to his home, to his Kingdom. “God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him” (Evangelii Gaudium, 112). And from us too there arises a love, a desire: the good always draws us, truth draws us, life, happiness, beauty attracts us... Jesus is the meeting point of this mutual attraction, of this double movement. He is God and man: Jesus. God and man. But who took the initiative? God, always! God’s love always comes before our own! He always takes the initiative. He waits for us, he invites us, the initiative is always his. Jesus is God made man, made flesh, he is born for us. The new star that appears to the Magi was a sign of the birth of Christ. Had they not seen the star, these men would not have set out. The light goes before us, truth goes before us, beauty precedes us. God goes before us. The Prophet Isaiah said that God is like the flower of the almond tree. Why? Because in that region the almond is the first to flower. And God goes ever before, he is always the first to seek us, he takes the first step. God goes ever before us. His grace precedes us and this grace appeared in Jesus. He is the Epiphany. He, Jesus Christ, is the manifestation of God’s love. He is with us.

The Church stands entirely within this movement of God toward the world: her joy is the Gospel, to mirror the light of Christ. The Church is the people who have experienced this attraction and bear it within, in their hearts and in their lives. “I would like to say — sincerely — I would like to say to those who feel far from God and from the Church — I would like to say respectively — to all those who are fearful or indifferent: the Lord is also calling you to be a part of his people and he does so with deep respect and love!” (cf. ibid., n. 113). The Lord is calling you. The Lord is seeking you. The Lord is waiting for you. The Lord does not proselytize, he loves, and this love seeks you, waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.

Let us ask God, on behalf of the whole Church, let us ask for the joy of evangelizing, for we were “sent by Christ to reveal and communicate the love of God to all men and to all peoples” (Ad Gentes, n. 10). May the Virgin Mary help us all to be missionary-disciples, little stars that mirror his light. Let us pray too that hearts be open to receiving the proclamation, and that all men and women may be “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (Eph 3:6)."

After the Angelus

"Brothers and sisters, I extend my warm wishes to our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who tomorrow will celebrate Holy Christmas. May the peace that God granted to humanity by the birth of Jesus, the Word Incarnate, strengthen in all faith, hope and charity, and may it give consolation to the Christian community, to the Churches under trial.

The Epiphany is the Missionary Day of children, organized by the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood. Many children in parishes play a leading role in acts of solidarity towards their peers, and by so doing they broaden the horizon of their fraternity. Dear little children, boys and girls, through your prayer and your commitment you co-operate in the mission of the Church. I thank you for this and I bless you!

Saluto tutti voi qui presenti: famiglie, gruppi parrocchiali e associazioni. In particolare saluto i giovani del Movimento Tra Noi e quelli dell’Oratorio San Vittore di Verbania; gli scout di Minori e di Castelforte; il coro Sant’Antonio di Lamezia Terme; il coro di Gozo “Laudate Pueri”, che ha animato assieme alla Cappella Sistina i canti della liturgia di oggi; la scuola cattolica “Giacomo Sichirollo” di Rovigo; e i partecipanti al corteo storico-folcloristico, che quest’anno è animato dalle famiglie della città di Leonessa e di altre località in Provincia di Rieti. A tutti auguro una buona festa dell’Epifania e buon pranzo e arrivederci!"


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