As with Us, the Magi ‘Will Always Bear in Their Heart the Novelty and the Fruits, which the Encounter with Him Has Produced in Their Existence’ – the Vatican-provided translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany, in remembrance of the Magi that came from the East to Bethlehem, following the star, to visit the new-born Messiah. The evangelical page (Cf. Matthew 2:1-12) includes a detail that elicits our reflection. At the end of the account, it is said that the Magi “being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way” (v. 12) — by another way.
These wise men, from distant regions, after much traveling, find Him whom they wanted to know, after having sought Him for long, certainly also with fatigue and vicissitudes. And when they finally reach their end, they prostrate themselves before the Child, adore Him and offer Him precious gifts, after which they set out again without hesitation to return to their land. However, that meeting with the Child has changed them. The encounter with Jesus doesn’t hold back the Magi, rather, it infuses in them a new impetus to return to their countries, to tell what they have seen and the joy they have felt. In this, there is a demonstration of God’s style, of His way of manifesting Himself in history. The experience of God doesn’t block us but frees us; it doesn’t imprison us but makes us start on the way, it sends us back to the usual places of our existence. The places are and will be the same, but we, after the encounter with Jesus, are not as we were before. The encounter with Jesus changes us, transforms us. The evangelist Matthew stresses that the Magi returned “by another way” (v. 12). They are led to change the way by the Angel’s warning, so as not to run into Herod and his plots of power.
Every experience of encounter with Jesus induces us to undertake different ways because good strength comes from Him, which heals our heart and detaches us from evil.
There is a wise dynamic between continuity and novelty: one returns “to one’s country,” but “by another way.” This indicates that it is we that must change, transform our way of living, although in the same environment, to change our criteria of judgment on the reality that surrounds us. See the difference between the true God and the treacherous idols, such as money, power, success . . . ; between God and all that these idols promise to give you, such as magicians, fortune tellers, sorcerers. The difference is that the idols bind us to themselves and they possess us. The true God does not hold us back or let Himself be held back by us: He opens to us ways of novelty and freedom, because he is a Father who is always with us to make us grow. If you encounter Jesus, if you have a spiritual encounter with Jesus, remember you must go back to the same places as always, but by another way, with another style. It’s so; it’s the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives us that changes our heart.
Let us ask the Holy Virgin that we may become witnesses of Christ where we are, with a new life transformed by His love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
A particular thought goes to brethren of the Oriental Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, many of whom celebrate the Lord’s Birth tomorrow. We wish them and their communities the light and peace of Christ the Saviour. Let us applaud our Orthodox and Catholic brethren of the Oriental Churches.
Celebrated on the day of the Epiphany is the World Missionary Childhood Day. It’s the feast of the missionary children and youngsters that live the universal call to holiness, by helping their neediest contemporaries through prayer and gestures of sharing. Let us pray for them.
My warm welcome goes to all of you, Romans and pilgrims. Among the latter, I greet in particular those from South Korea and the students of the “Siena College of the Franciscan Institute of New York; as well as the missionary group of Biassono and the faithful of Ferrara.
A special greeting goes to all those that give life to the historic-folkloric procession inspired by the Epiphany traditions and dedicated this year to the territory of Allumiere and of the Valle del Mignone. And I extend it also to the procession of the Magi in numerous cities and villages of Poland. I like to hail so many beautiful popular expressions linked to today’s feast — I think of Spain, of Latin America, of Germany –, customs that are kept in their genuine Christian meaning.
I wish you all a happy feast. And please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican