RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass of the Epiphany
To the blare of trumpets, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI processed to the High Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday morning, where he celebrated the Mass of the Epiphany, assisted by two Cardinal Deacons, His Eminence Gianfranco Ravasi, who is President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and His Eminence Walter Brandmuller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.
The readings were from the Book of the Prophet, Isaiah, in which the Holy City of Jerusalem is exhorted to rise up in splendour and receive homage from all the kings and princes of the world; then the 71st Psalm which sings with joyful and certain expectation of the day in which all the Nations of the Earth shall adore the One, True God. A passage from the Epistle of Paul to Ephesians was read, which proclaims the universal salvific mission of Christ and the creation of the Gentiles as co-heirs in His kingdom, full members of His body; the Deacon chanted the Gospel, taken from St. Mark, which tells the story of the Magi who were the first Gentiles to worship God in the flesh.
In his homily, Pope Benedict said that the story of the wise men who followed the star reveals that the universe is not the result of chance, as some would have us believe.
“Contemplating it,” he said, “we are invited to read something profound: the wisdom of the Creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God, his infinite love for us.”
The Pope exhorted the faithful not to let our minds be limited by theories that, even if they are true so far as they go, and not in competition with the faith, can nevertheless bring us only so far.
“In the beauty of the world, in its mystery, its greatness and rationality,” said Pope benedict, “we cannot fail to read the eternal rationality; we can not help but be guided by it to the one God, Creator of heaven and earth.”
The great king, Herod, saw not with the eyes of reason, but with those of worldly power, who was disposed to do anything at all in order to assure his grip on it.
“Herod,” said the Holy Father, “is a character whom we do not like, whom we instinctively judge in a negative way for its brutality. But we should ask ourselves: maybe there is something of Herod in us? Perhaps we, too, on occasion, see God as a kind of rival? Perhaps we too are blind to his signs, deaf to his words, because we think they put limits on our lives and do not allow us to dispose of our existence howsoever we will?
“Dear brothers and sisters,” he continued, “when we see God in this way we end up feeling dissatisfied and unhappy, because do not we let ourselves be guided by Him who is the foundation of all things. We must remove from our minds and our hearts the idea of rivalry, the idea that giving space to God means imposing a limit for ourselves; we must open ourselves to the certainty that God is omnipotent love who takes nothing away - no threat, indeed, He is the only one capable of offering us the opportunity to live fully, to experience real joy.
After Mass, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, during which the Holy Father had greetings for the faithful in many languages, including English:
I greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. On this, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church rejoices in the revelation of Jesus Christ as the light of all peoples. May the light of Christ’s glory fill you and your families with joy, strengthen Christians everywhere in their witness to the Gospel, and lead all mankind to the fullness of truth and life which God alone can give. Upon all of you, and in a special way upon the children present, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!
Also at the Angelus, Pope Benedict offered special greetings to all the faithful of the Eastern Churches, which celebrate Christmas tomorrow, praying that the Goodness of God, manifest in Christ Jesus – the Word Incarnate – might strengthen all in faith, hope and love, and give comfort to those communities, which are at present facing trials.
The Holy Father as well recalled the work of the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood, which celebrates the World Day for Missionary Childhood each year on the Epiphany.
Noting that through parishes and schools throughout the world, there is a spiritual network of children and young people ready and willing to help their brothers and sisters in difficulty, the Holy Father said the children’s prayer and dedication is a real contribution to the mission of the Church.