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Pope on Epiphany: Like the Magi may we dream, seek and adore

On the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis calls on us to lift our eyes up to heaven, like the Magi, to listen to the desire lodged in our hearts, and follow the star that God makes shine above us.

By Vatican News staff writer

In his homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis spoke about the pilgrimage of the Magi going to Bethlehem and what motivated them.

He recalled that they were wise men, famous and wealthy, yet they let themselves be unsettled by desiring to find the Christ Child and the sign of the star guiding them. They were filled with expectation, he noted, and "seekers after God."

This "spirit of healthy restlessness" was "born of desire," the Pope noted, saying their secret was this capacity to "fuel the fire that burns within us," looking beyond the immediate and visible. 

“It means embracing life as a mystery that surpasses us, as an ever-present cranny in the wall that beckons us to look into the distance, since life is not just our here and now, but something much greater.”

Following our heart's desire

The Pope cited the painter Vincent Van Gogh, who described his need for God as so strong as to drive him outside at night to paint the stars.

That is how God made us, he added, "brimming with desire, directed, like the Magi, towards the stars."

Nativity scene inside Saint Peter's Basilica
Nativity scene inside Saint Peter's Basilica

He noted as well how "we are what we desire," and this desire for God enlarges our gaze, strengthens our faith and moves us to serve Him, our brothers and sisters, and the common good.

“Brothers and sisters, as it was for the Magi, so it is for us. The journey of life and faith demands a deep desire and inner zeal.”

The Church needs this deep desire and zeal that should animate our journey of life and faith, the Pope noted. It is good that we question how our journey of faith is going, and whether our religious practice still "warms our hearts and changes our lives."

Epiphany celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica
Epiphany celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica

We need to be "startled by Jesus and by the explosive and unsettling joy of the Gospel," he added, noting how the crisis of faith in our lives and society is also due to the "eclipse of desire for God." 

“Faith, if it is to grow, has to begin ever anew. It needs to be sparked by desire, to take up the challenge of entering into a living and lively relationship with God.”

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'School of desire'

Pope Francis challenged us to ask ourselves if our hearts still burn with desire for God, our have the habits and difficulties of our lives extinguished this flame. But today we can always return rekindle this flame, also by looking to the example of the Magi and their "school of desire."

First, he noted how the Magi ask questions. 

“We need to listen carefully to the questions of our heart and our conscience, for it is there that God often speaks to us.”

Often this happens with more questions than answers, the Pope observed, and it is alright to be unsettled by the many questions, doubts, hopes and desires we face, the important thing is to ask and be open to them.

Epiphany celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica
Epiphany celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica

The Pope then noted how the Magi, in defying Herod by not returning to him to tell him where they found the Christ child, demonstrated great courage and prophetic faith, unafraid to challenge worldly power and evil. 

'Creativity of the Spirit'

Finally, he noted how in their return home "by another way," they challenge us as well to take new paths, to be open to the "creativity of the Spirit." 

“At the end of the Magi’s journey came the climactic moment: once they arrived at their destination, “they fell down and worshiped the Child” ...Let us we never forget this: the journey of faith finds renewed strength and fulfilment only when it is made in the presence of God.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said we need to recover our "taste" for adoration so our desire for God may be rekindled, as we must wish to be in His presence. "Jesus alone heals our desire," he added, and elevating them, and purifying them of selfishness so we can love truly God and neighbor.

“Like the Magi, let us lift up our eyes, listen to the desire lodged in our hearts, and follow the star that God makes shine above us. As restless seekers, let us remain open to God’s surprises. Let us dream, let us seek and let us adore.”

Watch the complete Epiphany Mass celebrated by Pope Francis
06 January 2022, 11:12