Marking the commemoration of the Adoration of the Child by the Magi, Pope Francis suggests we imitate the Magi. Gold is adoration; frankincense is prayer; myrrh, the cure for suffering bodies. Looking for God "not in worldly pomp, but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem". The Magi "arise to be covered with light". "There is an alternative way to take ... the path of humble love".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - On the day of the Epiphany, the feast that recalls the Adoration of Jesus by the Magi, we have "the opportunity to make a beautiful gift to our King".
This was Pope Francis’ invitation this morning during the Mass of Solemnity, celebrated in a packed St Peter’s Basilica. Inspired by the gifts brought by the Magi, gold, incense and myrrh, he explained: "Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place; he has to be worshiped. But do that, we need to remove ourselves
from the first place and to recognize our neediness, the fact that we are not self-sufficient”.
Then there is “frankincense, which symbolizes a relationship with the Lord, prayer, which like incense rises up to God (cf. Ps 141:2). Just as incense must burn in order to yield its fragrance, so too, in prayer, we need to “burn” a little of our time, to spend it with the Lord. Not just in words, but also by our actions.”
Finally “myrrh, the ointment that would be lovingly used to wrap the body of Jesus taken down from the cross (cf. Jn 19:39). The Lord is pleased when we care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return.”
During the homily, Francis highlighted some fundamental points. The first is that Jesus "who came to us not in worldly pomp, but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem". He pointed out that in the Gospels of childhood we mention the birth of Jesus alongside the names of powerful people like Augustus, Quirinius, Herod. But "God does not need the spotlights of the world to make himself known".
Pope Francis e reiterated “God’s light does not shine on those who shine with their own light. God “proposes” himself; he does not “impose” himself. He illumines; he does not blind. It is always a very tempting to confuse God’s light with the lights of the world. How many times have we pursued the seductive lights of power and celebrity, convinced that we are rendering good service to the Gospel! But by doing so, have we not turned the spotlight on the wrong place, because God was not there. His kindly light shines forth in humble love. How many times too, have we, as a Church, attempted to shine with our own light! Yet we are not the sun of humanity. We are the moon that, despite its shadows, reflects the true light, which is the Lord. He is the light of the world (cf. Jn 9:5). Him, not us."
Another point underlined is the urgency to "arise, to get up from our sedentary lives and prepare for a journey. Otherwise, we stand still, like the scribes that Herod consulted; they knew very well where the Messiah was born, but they did not move".
"The Magi, instead, fulfil the prophecy. They arise and shine, and are clothed in light. They alone see the star in the heavens: not the scribes, nor Herod, nor any of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In order to find Jesus, we also need to take a different route, to follow a different path, his path, the path of humble love. And we have to persevere. Today’s Gospel ends by saying that the Magi, after encountering Jesus, “left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12). Another road, different from that of Herod. An alternative route than that of the world, like the road taken by those who surround Jesus at Christmas: Mary and Joseph, the shepherds. Like the Magi, they left home and became pilgrims on the paths of God. For only those who leave behind their worldly attachments and undertake a journey find the mystery of God."
"Today - he concluded - we are asked to imitate the Magi. They do not debate; they set out. They do not stop to look, but enter the house of Jesus. They do not put themselves at the centre, but bow down before the One who is the centre. They do not remain glued to their plans, but are prepared to take other routes. Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to him, a total engagement with him… In this Christmas season now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp, but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem. If we can do this, his light will shine upon us."