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Pope: Like the Magi, venture from your comfort zones to find Jesus

January 11, 2018
Elise Harris

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis marked the Feast of the Epiphany by encouraging faithful to imitate the actions of the Magi, who weren’t attached to worldly comforts, but were willing to go out and take risks in order to find Jesus.

“Setting out, the second thing the Magi do, is essential if we are to find Jesus,” the pope said Jan. 6, on the Feast of the Epiphany.

“His star demands a decision to take up the journey and to advance tirelessly on our way,” he said. “It demands that we free ourselves from useless burdens and unnecessary extras that only prove a hindrance, and accept unforeseen obstacles along the map of life.”

Jesus, the pope said, allows himself to be found by those who are looking for him, however, in order to find him ourselves, “we need to get up and go, not sit around but take risks, not stand still, but set out.”

“Jesus makes demands: he tells those who seek him to leave behind the armchair of worldly comforts and the reassuring warmth of hearth and home.”

Francis noted that “setting out” isn’t always easy, as can be seen by various characters in the Gospel, including Herod, who organized meetings and sent people to gather information about the royal birth that had been prophesied, but himself “does not budge; he stays locked up in his palace.”

Even the priests and scribes, who had the ancient texts and knew the prophesy, were able to tell Herod exactly where to go, yet made no move themselves.

Their temptation, Francis said, is the same as those who have grown accustomed to being believers: “They can talk at length about the faith they know so well, but will not take a personal risk for the Lord.”

“The Magi, on the other hand, talk little and journey much,” he said. “Ignorant of the truths of faith, they are filled with longing and set out. So the Gospel tells us: they ‘came to worship him,’ ‘they set out; they went in, and fell down and worshiped him; they went back.’ They kept moving.”

Pope Francis spoke during Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany, which he celebrated inside St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, the pope focused on three key actions carried out by the Magi in the day’s Gospel: they first saw the star, they set out to follow it, and they then bring gifts to the infant Jesus.

Questioning whether anyone else saw the star that night, Francis observed that “few people raised their eyes to heaven.”

“We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment,” he said, and wondered aloud if people still dream or long for God and the newness that he brings.

He also asked why, if the star was so bright, no one else had followed it. “Perhaps because the star was not eye-catching, did not shine any brighter than other stars,” he said, noting that Jesus’ star “does not dazzle or overwhelm, but gently invites.”

Asking those present which star they have chosen to follow, Francis noted that some of the stars we choose are bright, but don’t point the way.

“So it is with success, money, career, honors and pleasures when these become our life,” he said, calling them meteors that “blaze momentarily,” but quickly burn out and fade away.

“The Lord’s star, however, may not always overwhelm by its brightness, but it is always there: it takes you by the hand in life and accompanies you.”

It does not promise material reward, but ensures peace and grants, as it did to the Magi, ‘exceedingly great joy.’”

After seeing the star, the Magi then set out and follow it to Bethlehem, he said, explaining that to do so meant taking a risk, which we are all required to do if we want to find Jesus.

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