Sends warmest wishes to Eastern Catholics and Orthodox celebrating Christmas according to the Julian calendar
Pope Francis reminded the faithful that the Christian life is a journey that requires each person to be attentive, untiring and courageous. Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on the Feast of the Epiphany Tuesday, January 6th, the Holy Father said the arrival of the Magi "evokes every man’s journey to Christ".
The star that led the Three Wise Men to the newborn Savior, the Pope said, is symbolic of the true star – the Word of God. "The star that is capable of guiding every man to Jesus is the Word of God, the Word that is in the Bible, in the Gospels. The Word of God is light that directs our journey, nourishes our faith and regenerates it."
"It is the Word of God that continually renews our hearts and our communities," he said.
Pope Francis also sent the Church’s "warmest wishes" to Eastern rite Catholics and to the Orthodox, many of whom tomorrow celebrate Christmas on this day, according to the Julian calendar.
He also reminded the faithful that today the Church celebrates World Day of Missionary Childhood – a feast dedicated to children who "live joyfully the gift of faith and pray that the light of Jesus might reach all the children of the world."
Here below is the full text of the Pope’s address:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Blessed feast day.
On Christmas night we meditated on the rush to the cave of Bethlehem of several shepherds who belonged to the people of Israel. Today, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we commemorate the arrival of the Magi, who came from the East to worship the newborn King of the Jews and universal Savior, and to offer him symbolic gifts. With their act of adoration, the Magi testify that Jesus came to earth to save not just one people, but all peoples. Therefore, in today’s feast our gaze widens to the horizon of the whole world to celebrate the “manifestation” of the Lord to all people, that is, the manifestation of God’s love and universal salvation.
He does not reserve his love to a privileged few; rather, he offers it to all. As he is the Creator and Father of all, so he wants to be the Savior of all.
That is why we are called always to nurture great trust and hope toward every person and his salvation: even those who seem far from the Lord are followed — or rather “pursued” — by his passionate love, by his faithful and also humble love. For God’s love is humble, so humble!
The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as the journey of a soul, as a journey toward an encounter with Christ. They are attentive to the signs that point to his presence; they are untiring in facing the difficulties of the search; they are courageous in dealing with the consequences that come from their encounter with the Lord. This is what life is: Christian life is a journey, but being attentive, untiring and courageous. This is how a Christian journeys. Journeying attentively, and courageously. The experience of the Magi evokes every man’s journey to Christ. As with the Magi, so also for us, to seek God means journeying — and as I was saying: attentive, untiring and courageous, looking to the heavens and seeing in the visible sign of the star the invisible God who speaks to our heart.
The star that is capable of guiding every man to Jesus is the Word of God, the Word that is in the Bible, in the Gospels. The Word of God is light that directs our journey, nourishes our faith and regenerates it. It is the Word of God that continually renews our hearts and our communities. Therefore let us not forget to read it and meditate on it each day, so that it may become for each of us like a flame that we carry within us to illuminate our steps and the steps of those who walk beside us, who perhaps are struggling to find their way to Christ. Always with the Word of God! The Word of God in hand: a little Gospel always in our pocket, our bag, in order to read it. Don’t forget this: the Word of God always with me!
On this day of Epiphany, our thoughts go also to our brothers and sisters of the Christian East, Catholics and Orthodox, many of whom tomorrow celebrate Christmas. We send them our warmest wishes.
I would like to recall that today we celebrate the World Day of Missionary Childhood. It is the feast dedicated to children who live joyfully the gift of faith and pray that the light of Jesus might reach all the children of the world. I encourage teachers to cultivate the missionary spirit in the little ones. May they not be closed children and young people, but open. May they see a great horizon, may their hearts move toward this horizon, in order that witnesses of God’s tenderness and heralds of the Gospel might arise among them.
Now let us turn to the Virgin Mary and let us invoke her protection on the universal Church, in order that the Gospel of Christ, the light of nations, the light of all peoples, might be spread through the entire world. And may she make us increasingly embrace the journey; may she make us embrace the journey and on the journey be attentive, untiring and courageous.
Translation by Diane Montagnaof Aleteia’s English Edition.