By Christopher Wells
Worship – adoration – “is the end and goal” of the journey of the Magi, the focus of the Solemnity of Epiphany. “Once we lose the sense of worship,” Pope Francis said in his homily, “we lose our direction in Christian life, which is a journey towards the Lord, not towards ourselves”.
The risk of being unable to worship
The Gospel, he said, warns about the risks for those who are incapable of worship. From Herod, “who used the word ‘worship’, but only to deceive”, we learn that “when we do not worship God, we end up worshipping ourselves”. The chief priests and scribes, likewise, are incapable of worship. Although they know the prophecies, “and can quote them exactly”, they are unable to go there themselves. “In the Christian life”, the Pope said, “it is not enough to be knowledgeable, unless we step out of ourselves, unless we encounter others, and worship, we cannot know God”.
Faith demands worship
Pope Francis prayed that at the start of the new year, we might “discover anew that faith demands worship”. Adoration, he said, “means putting the Lord at the centre, not ourselves”.
He explained that worship means “making space for God’s plan”, realizing that we belong with God, and “being able to speak to him freely and intimately”. Worship, the Pope said, means discovering that, “in order to pray, it is enough to say ‘My Lord and my God’ and to allow ourselves to be pervaded by His tender love”.
The Pope said that "worship is an act of love that changes our lives". Although we have some idea of what it means to pray, he said "the Church must go even further with the prayer of adoration, we have to grow in adoration. It is a wisdom that we must learn each day".
Adoration frees us from modern idols
By praying in adoration, Pope Francis continued, “we allow Jesus to heal and to change us… to transform us by His love, to kindle light amid our darkness, to grant us strength in weakness, and courage amid trials”. Worshipping God, he said, frees us from slavery to the idols of today, which must not be worshipped, such as “the god of money, the god of consumerism, the god of pleasure, the god of success, the god of self”. The Pope said that “worship means bending low before the Most High, and discovering in His presence that life’s greatness consists not in having, but in loving”.
The meaning of our journey
“Many Christians pray, but they do not worship”, Pope Francis said. “It is up to us, as a Church, to put into practice the words we prayed in today’s psalm: ‘All the peoples of the earth will worship you, O Lord”. Only then, he said, will we too discover “like the Magi, the meaning of our journey”.