Skip to comments.On the Feast of the Epiphany
Posted on 01/06/2010 9:52:31 PM PST by ELS
On the Feast of the Epiphany
"A Confirmation of the Perfect Harmony Between Human Seeking and Divine Truth"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- 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.
* * *
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.
May the Virgin Mary, model of true wisdom, help us to be genuine seekers of the truth of God, capable of living always the profound harmony that exists between reason and faith, science and revelation.
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father added:]
I am happy to address my most cordial greeting to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who tomorrow celebrate Holy Christmas. May the mystery of light be a source of joy and peace for every family and community.
Observed on the Solemnity of the Epiphany is Children's Missionary Day, with the motto "Children Help Children." Promoted by the Venerable Pope Pius XII, this initiative educates children to be formed in a mentality open to the world and to be in solidarity with their poorest peers. I greet affectionately all the little missionaries present in the five continents and encourage them to be always witnesses of Jesus and heralds of his Gospel.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[He then greeted the people in several languages. In English, the Pope said:]
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. As the wise men of old followed a star and knelt before the Christ child, we too are called to welcome Him who today reveals the loving face of God to the nations. May the example of the wise men encourage us to give our very best to God and to our neighbours. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings!
© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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Nota bene: I couldn't find any from Reuters, so I am not posting any here.
Please let me know if you want to be on or off this ping list.
There wasn't a general audience today. Being the Feast of the Epiphany, there was a Papal Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and then the Holy Father prayed the Angelus from his apartment window overlooking St. Peter's Square.
Not in America we didn't (necessarily).
Right. Now, if they were so smart, why did they go to Herod do begin with? Doing so resulted in the slaughter of the innocents. Yes, of course you could say "to fulfill prophecy," but I'm not sure really answers the question.
In the Ordinary Form it was observed on Sunday (1/3/10). In the Extraordinary Form it was observed on Wednesday (1/6/10).
It wasn't that they were so smart, but they were warned not to return to Herod. See the previous sentence, which is from Matthew?
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).
that wasn’t what I asked, but thanks.
Bethlehem is five miles south of Jerusalem. The direct route for Persian visitors would be to pass through Jerusalem. It was perfectly natural that they should call upon Herod - not to mention politically advisable.
Papal audience ping!
Actually, I just recently learned that in countries where the Epiphany is a holy day of obligation, it’s still celebrated on January 6. In countries where it isn’t such a day, it’s celebrated on the Sunday after January 1.
In the extraordinary form, the Sunday after January 1, is the Holy Name of Jesus and the Sunday after January 6 is the Holy Family (unless, of course, January 6 falls on a Sunday).
It wasn't that they were so smart [to avoid Herod on the way back], but they were warned not to return to Herod.
In his homily Benedict XVI commented on the readings from the Book of Isaiah and from the Gospel of St. Matthew, explaining that the Magi "were not the last but the first of the great procession of people who, through all ages of history, were able to recognize the message of the star, to follow the paths indicated by Sacred Scripture, and thus to find Him Who is apparently weak and fragile but Who, in fact, has the power to bring the greatest and most profound joy to the human heart".
"In Him", the Pope continued, "is the expression of the stupendous truth that God knows us and is close to us, that His greatness and power are not expressed in the logic of the world, but in the logic of a defenseless child Whose strength is only that of the love He gives us. In the course of history there are always people who are illuminated by the light of the star, who find the path and manage to encounter Him. All of them live, each in their own way, the same experience as the Magi".
"If, then, we read the promise of the prophet Isaiah and its fulfillment in the Gospel of Matthew within the great context of all history, it is evident that what we are told - and what we seek to reproduce in the nativity scene - is not a dream or a vain interplay of feelings and emotions devoid of strength or authenticity; rather, it is the Truth that irradiates around the world".
"Only in that Child is the power of God made manifest, the power which brings together men of all centuries so that, under His lordship, they may follow the path of love which transfigures the world. And yet, although the few of Bethlehem have become many, believers in Jesus Christ always seem to be few. Many have seen the star but only a few have understood its message".
"We can, then, ask ourselves", said the Holy Father, "why is it that some seek and find, while others do not? What is it that opens their eyes and hearts? What is lacking in those who remain indifferent, in those who show the way but do not move themselves? And we may answer that too much self-confidence, the belief they possess a perfect knowledge of reality, and the presumption of having already formulated a definitive judgment about things makes their hearts closed and insensitive to the novelty of God. They are sure of the idea they have of the world and do not allow themselves to be intimately moved by the adventure of a God Who wants to meet them. They place their trust more in themselves than in Him, and do not believe it possible that God is so great that He can become small, that he can truly draw close to us.
"In the end", he added, "what they lack is the authentic humility capable of submitting itself to that which is greater, but also the authentic courage which brings us to believe in that which is truly great, even if it shows itself in a defenceless Child. What they lack is the evangelical capacity to become children at heart, to be amazed and to abandon the self so as to start down the path indicated by the star, the path of God. Yet the Lord", the Pope concluded, "has the power to make us see and to save ourselves".
HML/EPIPHANY/... VIS 100107 (620)
Sorry, this is a total miss.
Herod was a self aggrandizing psychopath and a murderous despot. Even people who couldn't read the stars knew it. I can't recall the details but in Mass on Sunday we heard a small litany of the friends, wives, relatives and rivals he had killed.
Therefore, to "call upon" him, alerting him that a rival king -- THE rival king -- had been born, is about as advisable as doing jumping jacks with flask of nitroglycerin strapped to your belt.
Futhermore, why avoid him on the way back if it was "advisable" to "call upon him" on the way there?
Sigh. Let me try one more time.
Why weren't they advised to avoid him to begin with? Wasn't the wholesale slaughter of an entire generation of infants worth avoiding?
Being able to see into the future - slaughter of infants - was not part of their skill set, so to speak, and is not related to intelligence. Hindsight can be 20/20, but most people don't have 20/20 foresight. You are looking at the situation with hindsight.
God works in mysterious ways. Why did He choose Peter who denied Him three times to be his first Pope or Judas who would betray Him? It is all part of God's plan, but that does not mean that we can fully comprehend His plan.
OK, didn't get that the first few times around.
But they were "wise men." And if you see another post I made here, you'll see my argument about why anyone with any sense would have known better than to taunt Herod with the news of a rival king's birth.
As for it "all being part of God's plan," well, that's not an explanation. That's like saying the sky is blue because it is blue.
I don't fault your answer, because it's not an easy question - I've certainly never heard it asked - and it's a challenge to the conventional wisdom and the popular tradition. But I think it's a good, honest question, even if there is no other answer than, "because."
Journey of the Magi
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
— T. S. Eliot
(The first four lines are quoted from a Christmas sermon by Lancelot Andrewes.)