Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On the Feast of the Epiphany

"A Confirmation of the Perfect Harmony Between Human Seeking and Divine Truth"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Holy Father had just celebrated Mass for the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the great feast of the Epiphany, the mystery of the Lord's manifestation to all peoples, represented by the Magi, who came from the East to adore the King of the Jews (cf. Matthew 2:1-2). The Evangelist Matthew, who recounts the event, stresses how the Magi arrived in Jerusalem following a star, seen at its rising and interpreted as a sign of the birth of the king proclaimed by the prophets, that is, of the Messiah.

Arriving in Jerusalem, however, the Magi were in need of the indications of the priests and scribes to know exactly the place where they should go, namely, Bethlehem, the city of David (cf. Matthew 2:5-6; Micah 5:1). The star and sacred Scriptures were the two lights that guided the way of the Magi, who appear to us as models of genuine seekers of truth.

They were wise men, who scrutinized the stars and knew the history of peoples. They were men of science in a broad sense, who observed the cosmos regarding it almost as a great book full of divine signs and messages for man. Their learning, however, far from making them self-sufficient, was open to further divine revelations and appeals. In fact, they were not ashamed to ask for instructions from the religious leaders of the Jews. They could have said: We can do it alone, we have no need of anyone, avoiding, according to our mentality today, every "contamination" between science and the Word of God.

Instead, the Magi listened to the prophecies and welcomed them and, no sooner were they on the way to Bethlehem, than they again saw the star, almost as a confirmation of the perfect harmony between human seeking and divine Truth, a harmony that filled the hearts of these genuine wise men with joy (cf. Matthew 2:10). The culmination of their search was when they found themselves before "the Child with Mary, his Mother" (Matthew 2:11).

The Gospel says that "prostrating themselves, they adored him." They could have remained disappointed, even scandalized. Instead, as true wise men, they were open to the mystery manifested in a surprising way, and with their symbolic gifts, demonstrated that they recognized in Jesus the King and Son of God. Precisely in that gesture were fulfilled the messianic prophecies that proclaimed the homage of nations to the God of Israel.

A final detail confirms, in the Magi, the unity between intelligence and faith: It is the fact that "warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way" (Matthew 2:12). It would have been natural to return to Jerusalem, to Herod's palace and the Temple, to proclaim their discovery. Instead, the Magi, who chose the Child as their sovereign, protected him in concealment, in keeping with Mary's style, or better, with that of God himself. And thus, as they appeared, they disappeared in silence, content, but also changed by the encounter with Truth. They had discovered a new face of God, a new royalty: that of love.


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