Like the Magi, we seek the light that shows the path to take in life, Pope says
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The universe was not created randomly “as some would have us believe”. It bears “God’s signature” for his “criteria” are different from those of men. He became a babe in a grotto to save the world and did not show his power by creating, for example, a system in which everyone could have what they wanted because in so doing he would have taken away men’s freedom. During the Angelus, Benedict XVI referred to Jesus again in his wishes “to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May God’s goodness, which appeared in Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate, strengthen the faith, hope and charity in everyone, and give comfort to the communities that are currently under pressure.”
As Benedict XVI noted during Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica and later during the Angelus, to follow the Magi, who arrive today in the grotto, provides a number of topics to reflect upon, starting with the “universal destination and meaning” of Jesus’ birth. The son of God in fact “came not only for the People of Israel, represented by the shepherds of Bethlehem, but also for humanity as a whole, represented by the Magi.” The latter were “wise men who watched the sky, not to ‘read’ the future in the stars, and eventually gain from it. They were men on a ‘quest’ for something greater; they were seeking the true light that shows the way to journey in life.”
“Epiphany,” the Holy Father told the 40,000 people present in Saint Peter’s Square for the Angelus, which was enlivened by shouts of ‘Viva la Befana’, “heralds the universal openness of the Church, its call to evangelise among the nations. Epiphany also tells how the Church carries out this mission, by reflecting the light of Christ and announcing his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service the star provided the Magi. They must shine like sons of light to attract everyone to the beauty of the Kingdom of God. To those who seek the truth, they must offer the Word of God that leads to recognise that Jesus “is the true God and eternal life (1 John, 5:20).
The Magi’s journey, “their desire to be guided by God’s signs,” which the Pope followed step by step during the Mass, begins with the meeting with Herod. The King is “a man of power who sees in the other only a rival to oppose. In the end, if we think about it, even God appears to him to be a rival, one who is especially dangerous, who tries to deprive men of their vital space, autonomy and power. He is a rival that shows the way to take in life and prevents us from doing all that we want.”
Herod’s “only thought is about the throne. Hence, God himself must be blotted out and people must be reduced to pawns to be moved around in the great game of power. [. . .] However, we should ask ourselves whether there is a bit of Herod in each of us? Perhaps, sometimes we too see God as some kind of rival. Perhaps we too are blind to his signs, deaf to his words, because we think he limits our life and does not allow us to dispose of it as we see fit?”
“The Magi met scholars, theologians and experts who knew all about the Holy Scriptures, their possible interpretations, who were able to quote them chapter and verse and so were a precious help to those who wanted to journey on God’s path. But, as Saint Augustine noted, they loved to guide others, point the road, but they did not move or walk. For them, the Scriptures were like an atlas to read with curiosity, a collection of words and concepts to be intelligently examined. Yet, we may wonder whether we too are not tempted to view the Holy scriptures, this rich and vital treasure for the faith of the Church, as an object of study and discussion for specialists rather than the Book that tells us how to reach life?”
“Now we come to the star. What type of star did the magi see and follow? Over the centuries, astronomers discussed the question. [. . .] Of course, that is interesting but it does not lead us to what is essential to understand the star. We must go back to the fact that those men were looking for God’s tracks; that they were trying to read his “signature” in creation. They knew that “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps, 19:2).
“The universe was not created randomly as some would have us believe. As we look upon it, we are invited to read something deeper into it, namely the Creator’s wisdom, God’s inexhaustible imagination, his infinite love for us. We should not allow ourselves to be limited by theories that go only so far and that, if we look at them carefully, whilst not in competition with faith are unable to explain the ultimate meaning of reality. We cannot but read eternal rationality in the world’s beauty, its mystery, greatness and rationality; we cannot avoid being led by it to the One God, creator of heaven and earth. If we see things this way, we shall see the One who created the world, the One who was born in a grotto in Bethlehem, the One who continues to live among us in the Eucharist. They are the same living God, who calls upon us, loves us and wants to lead us to eternal life.”
“The Magi’s journey leads to a reflection. The ‘king’ is not in Jerusalem, is not at the court. [. . .] The star led them to Bethlehem, a small town; it led them to the poor and the humble to find the King of the world. God’s criteria are different from those of men. God does not show itself in the power of this world, but in the humility of his love, the love that calls on our freedom to be received to transform us and make us capable to reach the One who is Love. For us too, things are not so different from the way they were for the Magi. If someone asked for our opinion on how God could save the world, we might say that he would manifest his power in order to give the world a more just economic system, in which everyone has all they need. In reality, this would be a form of violence against man because it would deprive him of the fundamental elements that characterise him. In fact, our freedom and our love would not be involved. God’s power manifested itself in a very different way in Bethlehem, where we can see the apparent powerlessness of his love. That is where we must go, and where we can find God’s star.”
“A final and important element in the Magi story is clear. The language of creation allows us to cover a good deal of the path towards God, but it does not provide us with the ultimate light. In the end, it was necessary for the Magi to listen to the voice of the Holy Scriptures. Only they could show the way. Given the uncertainty of human discourses, God’s word is the true start that offers us the immense splendour of divine truth.