Pope Francis: Like the Magi, Follow Christ’s Light

The Holy Father reflected Jan. 6 on the Wise Men, who, bearing gifts, came to see the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.

Pope Francis gives his homily on Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 6.
Pope Francis gives his homily on Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 6. (photo: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — To be clothed in the divine light of Christ, follow the example of the three Magi, who put aside worldly power and success and rose to follow the star to Jesus, Pope Francis encouraged Sunday at Mass for Epiphany.

“We need to arise, to get up from our sedentary lives and prepare for a journey,” he said Jan. 6. “We also need to shine, to be clothed in God, who is light, day by day, until we are fully clothed in Jesus.”

“Yet to be clothed in God, who like the light is simple, we must first put aside our pretentious robes,” he continued. “Otherwise, we will be like Herod, who preferred the earthly lights of success and power to the divine light.”

“The Magi, instead, fulfill the prophecy. They arise and shine and are clothed in light. They alone see the star in the heavens: not the scribes, nor Herod, nor any of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

In a homily at Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Pope Francis reflected on the three Magi, or Wise Men, who, bearing gifts, came to see the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.

“Let us ask ourselves this question: At Christmas, did we bring gifts to Jesus for his party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?” he asked. “If we went to the Lord empty-handed, today we can remedy that.”

The Epiphany asks Catholics to imitate the Magi, the Pope said. “They do not debate; they set out. They do not stop to look, but enter the house of Jesus. They do not put themselves at the center, but bow down before the One who is the center. They do not remain glued to their plans, but are prepared to take other routes.”

“Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to him, a total engagement with him. With him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks. Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive, but to give,” he stated.

As the Christmas season comes to a close, do not miss an opportunity “to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp, but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem,” Pope Francis urged. “If we can do this, his light will shine upon us.”

Following Mass, Pope Francis led the customary Sunday Angelus from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. In his reflection, he focused on the birth of Jesus, “symbolized by light.”

Quoting from the Book of Isaiah, Francis said, “Arise, be clothed with light; for your light is coming. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.”

“This invitation, today, also resonates for us who have celebrated the birth of Jesus and encourages us to let ourselves be reached by the light of Bethlehem,” he said.

Noting how the coming of the Magi contrasts with Herod and the scribes of Jerusalem, who had hard hearts, he said that even today many have closed their hearts to people in need.

The Magi, however, bowed before Jesus, offering him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, “because the search for the Lord implies not only perseverance on the path, but also generosity of the heart,” he explained.

Then, returning to their own country, the Magi went by another way, he said, adding that this happens during personal conversions, too. “Every time a man or a woman meets Jesus, he changes his ways, comes back to life in a different way; he is renewed.”

“Let’s make a little silence in our hearts and let ourselves be illuminated by the light of Jesus that comes from Bethlehem,” he said. May we “not allow our fears to close our hearts, but have the courage to open ourselves to this Light that is gentle and discreet.”