Papa Francesco’s Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany

Below is my translation of the homily Papa Francesco gave when he celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany on this past Tuesday.  I have taught myself Italian so as to translate his writings as it takes the Vatican forever to post things in English on their website and when they do they leave out things and change words significantly at times, I think they are  “sanitizing” what he says to match their way of thinking.  I find this appalling but I have it on good report that this is the way the Vatican has always done with the pope’s writings.  It was quite egregious under John XXIII.  I found this to be one of the more beautiful homilies PF has given.  It is a true pleasure in my life to be able to translate this man’s writings at all times and this one was an exceptional pleasure in my opinion……Reyanna

That Baby, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, did not come only for the people of Israel represented by the shepherds of Bethlehem, but also for the entire humanity, represented by the Magi coming from the Orient.  And it is just on the Magi and on their journey of seeking the Messiah that the Church invites us today to meditate and to pray.

These Magi coming from the Orient are the first of a great procession of whom the prophet Isaiah talked about in the first reading (cfr 60: 1-6) , a procession that since is never interrupted (his exact words were “is not interrupted any more.”..rr), and that through all the ages recognizes the message of the star and finds the Baby who shows us the tenderness of God.  There are always new persons who are enlightened by the light of the star, who find the way and reach Him.

The Magi, according to tradition, were wise men, students of the stars, scrutinizers of the heavens, in a cultural context and of beliefs that attributed meanings and influences on human events to the stars.  The Magi represent the men and women in search of God in religions and in philosophies of the whole world:  a search what will never end.  Men and women in search.

The Magi show us the way on which to journey in our life.  They search for the true light: “Light requires light” says a liturgical hymn for Epiphany, properly referring to the experience of the Magi; “Light requires light”.  Following a light, they search for a light.  They were going to search for the light of God.  Seeing the sign of the star, they interpreted it and put themselves on the journey, made a long voyage.

It is the Holy Spirit who has called them and led them to get on the journey; and on this journey they will also have their personal encounter with the true God.

In their journey, the Magi encounter so much difficulty.  When they arrive at Jerusalem, they go to the palace of the king, because they consider it obvious that the new king will be born in an actual palace.  There they lose sight of the star.  Many times the vision of the star is lost. And they encounter a temptation, put there by the devil:  it is the deception of Herod.  King Herod shows an interest in the baby, but not to adore him, but rather to eliminate him.  Herod is a man of power, who can only see in the other a rival.  And he basically also considers God as a rival, rather a more dangerous rival.  In the palace, the Magi go through a moment of darkness, of desolation, that fails to overcome them thanks to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit, that was speaking through the prophecies of Sacred Scripture.  These indicated that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

At this point they begin again the journey and see the star again:  the evangelist notes that they showed “the greatest joy” (Mt 2:10), a true consolation.  Arrived at Bethlehem, they find “the baby with Mary His mother” (Mt 2:11).  After that of Jerusalem, this for them was the second, great temptation:  rejecting this littleness.  And instead “the fell down and worshipped him”, offering him their precious and symbolic gifts.  It is always the grace of the Holy Spirit that helps them:  this grace, that by means of the star, had called them and guided them along the journey, now makes them enter the mystery.  That star that accompanied them on the journey makes them enter the mystery.  Guided by the Holy Spirit, they arrive to recognize that the criteria of God are very different than those of men, that God is not manifest in the power of this world, but addresses us in the humility of his love,.The love of God is great, yes.  The love of God is powerful, yes.  But the love of God is humble, so humble.  The Magi are thus models of conversion to the true faith because they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendor of power.

And so we can ask: What is the mystery in which God is hidden?  Where can I find him?  We see around us wars, the exploitation of children, torture, arms trafficking, trafficking of persons…In all this reality, in all these the littlest brothers and sisters who suffer from such situations, Jesus is there (cfr Mt 25: 40-45).  The crib promises us a different way than that adored by the worldly mentality:  it is the way of the abasement of God, that humility of the love of God is abasement,  is annihilation, this hidden glory in the manger of Bethlehem, in the cross on Calvary, in the brother and in the sister who suffers.

The Magi entered in mystery.  They passed from human calculations to mystery:  and in this was their conversion.  And ours?  We ask the Lord to grant us to live the same journey of conversion lived by the Magi.  To defend us and fee us from the temptations that hide the star.  That we always have the restlessness to ask ourselves:  where is the star?, when—in the midst of worldly deceptions—we have lost sight of it.  That we learn to understand always in a new way the mystery of God, that we are not scandalized by the “sign”, by the indication, that sign said by the Angels: “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Lk 2: 12) and that we have the humility of asking Mary, of our Mother, that we show it, that we find the courage to free ourselves from our illusions, from our presumptions, from our “light”, and that we seek this courage in the humility of faith and that we can encounter the Light, Lumen, as did the holy Magi.  That we can enter into the mystery.  So it is.

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