Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "The shepherds and the Magi teach us that to meet Jesus we must know how to look up into the sky,” said Pope Francis in his Angelus address to the pilgrims who crowded St Peter’s Square on the day the Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany.
The pontiff, who celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica this morning, explained what it means to "look up into the skies”. It means “not turning inward, focused on one’s own selfishness;” it means “having a heart and mind open towards God’s horizon, which always surprises us;” it means “knowing how to accept his messages, responding promptly and generously."
"The shepherds of Bethlehem,” Francis noted, “ran over to see Jesus not because they were particularly good, but because they were on a night watch, and, raising their eyes towards the sky, saw a sign, listened to his message and followed him. The Magi did the same: peering into the skies, they saw a new star, interpreted the sign and went forth from afar."
"When they saw the star, the Magi ‘were overjoyed’ (Mt, 2:10). Even for us, there is great consolation in seeing the star,” because it makes us “feel guided and not abandoned to our fate. The Gospel, the Word of the Lord, is the star, as Psalms says, ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path’ (119:105).
“This light guides us towards Christ. Without listening to the Gospel, it is not possible to meet him! The Magi, in fact, following the star, came to the place where Jesus was. Here ‘they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage’ (Mt, 2:11).
"The Magi’s experience calls upon us not to settle for mediocrity, for just getting along, but impels us to seek the meaning of things, and peer with passion into the great mystery of life. It teaches us not to be scandalised by small things and poverty, but [instead calls upon us] to recognise the majesty of humility, and know how to kneel in front of it."
"May the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Magi in Bethlehem, help us look up by ourselves, follow the star of the Gospel to meet Jesus, and know how to lower ourselves to worship him. Thusly, we can bring a ray of his light onto others, and share the joy of the journey with them."
After the Marian prayer, Francis expressed his "spiritual closeness to the brothers and sisters of the Christian East, Catholic and Orthodox, many of whom will celebrate the Lord's birth tomorrow. To them, we extend our best wishes for peace and good tidings,” and speaking ad lib, "let us also send them in greeting a big round of applause!”
Finally, “Epiphany is the World Day of Missionary Childhood,” the pontiff said. “It is a celebration for children who, with their prayers and sacrifices, help their neediest peers by becoming missionaries and witnesses of brotherhood and sharing."