In the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – in a Vatican Basilica animated by the choirs of the Sistine Chapel and other American dioceses, in the presence of concelebrating cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests – the Pontiff commented on today’s Gospel of Matteo dedicated to the Three Kings who came to Bethlehem and, guided to the Child Jesus and Mary by the star, “experienced great joy”. Precisely those Three Wise Men, he explained, represent men from every part of the world who are welcomed to God’s house: “In front of Jesus, there is no distinction of race, language and culture anymore: in that Child, all humanity finds its unity”.
On the other hand, the Pope added, “the Church cannot delude itself into thinking that it shines, that it has its own light, it cannot”. In fact, Christ is “the true light that shines” and to the extent in which the Church remains anchored in him, it “manages to illuminate the life of individuals and peoples”. How many people – Francis observed – await our missionary commitment, “because they need Christ, they need to know the face of the Father”. The task of the Church has been always that of bringing to the fore the desire of God in the heart of every man. “As the Three Kings, many people, even in our days, live with the ‘restless heart that continues to ask without finding certain answers; there is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit that moves in their hearts. They are in search of the star that shows the path towards Bethlehem “because the Creator” calls everyone to recognize him as a father, a good and faithful one”.
The Pope resumed his reflection on the Wise Men began with the surprise visit on Monday afternoon at the nativity scene in Greccio: “They had scrutinized the great book of the sky for a long time to find an answer to their questions – their heart was restless – and finally the light had appeared. That star has changed. It made them forget their everyday interests and begin their journey straight away. They listened to a voice, which urged them in their hearts to follow that light – the voice of the Holy Spirit who works in all the people – and it guided them until they found the king of the Jews in a poor house in Bethlehem”.
We must draw “lessons” from this example, the Pope added. “We are challenged to go to Bethlehem to find the child and his Mother. Let us follow the light God offers us, a tiny one! The anthem of the breviary tells us poetically that the Three Kings “lumen requirunt lumine“, that little light. The light that shines from the face of Christ, full of mercy and faithfulness. And, once we reach Him, let us adore Him with all our heart and give Him our gifts: our freedom, our intelligence, our love. The true wisdom is hidden in the face of this child”.