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Pope Francis at Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany Pope Francis at Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany  (Vatican Media)

Pope at Epiphany Mass: God’s gentle light shines in humble love

In his homily at Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis invites us to imitate the Magi by recognizing God’s gentle light and by freely helping those who suffer.

By Devin Watkins

Jesus reveals himself to all the nations in a gentle light that shines in humble love.

Pope Francis made that remark in his homily on Sunday, as he reflected on the Epiphany of the Lord. “Epiphany”, he noted, indicates the manifestation of the Lord. “The symbol of this event is light, which reaches and enlightens everything.”

He said the manner in which God revealed Himself is surprising. The Gospels contrast the powerful of the earth and their palaces with the humble abode where Jesus is born. “None of the powerful of the time realized that the Lord of history was born exactly in their days,” he said.

“Herein lies the surprise: God does not emerge at the forefront of the world in order to manifest Himself.”

Power or love

Pope Francis said we might be tempted to shine the spotlight on the illustrious men of Jesus’ time. We might think it would have been better if Jesus was born in Rome, so that “the whole empire would have immediately become Christian.”

But, he said, God does not go to those who shine with their own light. “God offers Himself, He does not impose Himself; He enlightens, but He does not dazzle.”

The Holy Father said we often think we are working for the Gospel when we chase after the limelight. But, he noted, God’s “gentle light shines in humble love.”

Pope Francis said the Church is not “the sun of humanity”. Rather, it is “the moon, which, despite its shadows, reflects the true light, which is the Lord: He is the light of the world.”

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Stay or go

God’s light, he said, “shines in those who are willing to receive it.” So we have to get up and walk, unlike the scribes Herod consulted who knew where the Messiah was born but did not go and see.

The Magi are our guides, he said. They take a different path, “the way of humble love.” They left their homes to become pilgrims along God’s path. “For, only those who leave their worldly possessions behind and set off on the path find the mystery of God.”

Look or enter

Pope Francis said we have to find that place where Jesus is born and go there. “It is not enough to know that Jesus was born, like Herod, if we do not encounter him.”

The Magi, the Pope said, “do not discuss, but walk; they do not stay outside to look, but enter into Jesus’ house. They do not put themselves at the center, but prostrate themselves before Him, who is the center. They are not set in their plans, but are prepared to walk other paths.”

Adore, pray, and help others

Finally, Pope Francis said the Magi’s gifts to Jesus teach us three things.

Gold, he said, means “God must be given the first place” and that we must adore Him. Frankincense, symbolizing our relationship with the Lord, is an invitation to “burn” some time in prayer. And myrrh, which will be used to perfume Jesus’ dead body in the tomb, shows us the importance of helping our suffering brothers and sisters.

“Mercy is precious in God’s eyes when it is extended to those who have no way of returning the favor”.

Watch Epiphany Mass with English commentary
06 January 2019, 10:43