On the Christian feast of the Epiphany, the commemoration of the visit of the three “kings,” or “wise men,” to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, Pope Francis underscored the need to lift one’s gaze above the daily cares of this world to discover God.
In his midday Angelus message, the Pope said that the three men from the East represent “all of humanity” as seekers who come to find salvation in Jesus Christ.
The two groups of people who came to worship Jesus at his birth, said Francis, the shepherds and the Magi, are very different, yet have one thing in common: “the sky.”
The shepherds, he said, ran to see Jesus not because they were particularly good, but because as watchers of the night, looking up to the sky, “they saw a sign, listened to his message and followed him.”
So, too, the Magi, “gazing at the skies, they saw a new star, interpreted a sign and set out from a great distance,” he said.
“The shepherds and the Magi teach us that to find Jesus we must know how to look up to the heavens, and not to be turned in upon ourselves, on our own selfishness,” he said. We must rather “open our hearts and minds to God, Who always surprises us, know how to welcome His messages, and respond promptly and generously,” he added.
The experience of the Magi “urges us not to be content with mediocrity, not to just ‘get along,’” Francis said, “but to search for the meaning of things, gazing with passion into the great mystery of life.”
The Gospel of the day speaks of Magi who came from the East seeking the newborn King of the Jews. “We saw His star at its rising,” it reads, “and have come to do Him homage.”
Seeing the star, they are filled with joy, and it leads them to the place where Jesus is, together with His mother, Mary. At this, “they prostrated themselves and did Him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” it continues.
Francis said that the Magi “teach us not to be scandalized by smallness and poverty, but to recognize majesty in humility, and to know how to kneel before it.”
The men who come from afar, Francis stated, speak of the universality of the Christian message, which is for all peoples. The Church, he said, “wants all peoples of the earth to encounter Jesus and to experience His merciful love.”
“The feast of the Epiphany wishes to respectfully point out to every man and woman in this world the Child Who was born for the salvation of all,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.