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Look at the star and walk!: Pope’s Epiphany advice


Brooklyn Museum

Les rois mages en voyage, par James Tissot.

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 01/06/22

The Gospel shares one specific detail that gives us the secret to the "success" of the Magi.

They faced a long and difficult journey to go and adore “the king of the Jews.” They were guided by the wondrous sign of a star, and when they finally reached their destination, rather than finding something spectacular, they found a baby with his mamma. They could have protested: “How many roads and how many sacrifices, only to find a poor child?” But they did not protest. Neither were they scandalized or disappointed. They did not complain. What did they do? They prostrated themselves. “Going into the house,” the Gospel says, “they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Pope Francis offered this summary of today’s feast on January 6, before praying the midday Angelus. The Holy Father’s exhortation was to grow in humility like the Magi showed:

The Magi humbled themselves before the unheard-of logic of God. They accepted the Saviour not the way they had imagined him to be – someone grand – but as he was; the Lord is small, poor. Their prostration is the sign of those who place their own ideas aside and make room for God. It takes humility to do this.

“It is not easy to adore this God,” the Pope admitted, “whose divinity remains hidden and who does not appear triumphant.”

But the key is in something the Gospel stresses: “It does not only say that the Magi worshipped, it emphasizes that they fell down and worshipped. Let us understand this detail: their worship and prostration go together. Performing this action, the Magi manifest their humble acceptance of the One who presented himself in humility. And so it is that they are open to worship God.”

Their true wealth is not in the treasure they give the wee king, the Pope said. Their true wealth is their humility, “their awareness of their need of salvation. This is the example the Magi give us today.”

Dear brothers and sisters, if we always remain at the center of everything with our ideas, and if we presume to have something to boast of before God, we will never fully encounter him, we will never end up worshipping him. If our pretensions, vanity, stubbornness, competitiveness do not fall by the wayside, we may well end up worshipping someone or something in life, but it will not be the Lord!

If instead, we abandon our pretence of self-sufficiency, if we make ourselves little inside, we will then rediscover the wonder of worshipping Jesus because adoration comes from humility of heart: those who are obsessed with winning will never be aware of the Lord’s presence. Jesus passes nearby and is ignored, as happened to many at that time, but not to the Magi.

Brothers and sisters, looking at them, let us ask ourselves today: what is my humility like?

Our examen

  • Am I convinced that pride impedes my spiritual progress?
  • That pride, apparent or hidden, always dampers the drive toward God.
  • Am I working on docility to be open to God and others, or am I rather centred on myself and my pretences, that hidden selfishness which is pride?
  • Do I know how to set aside my own perspective to embrace that of God and others?
  • Finally: do I pray and worship only when I need something, or do I consistently do so because I believe that I am always in need of Jesus?

Don’t stop –

Pope Francis said the Magi leave us with concrete advice:

The Magi began their journey looking at a star, and they found Jesus. They walked a lot. Today, we can take this piece of advice: look at the star and walk. Never stop walking, but, do not stop looking at the star. This is the strong advice for today: look at the star and walk, look at the star and walk.

May the Virgin Mary, the servant of the Lord, teach us to rediscover our vital need for humility and the vibrant desire to worship. May she teach us to look at the star and walk.

Pope Francis
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