.- Presiding at Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI said that there is nothing to fear in Christ’s message and remarked that failure on the part of Christians is an indicator that “the light is Christ, and the Church reflects that light only by remaining united to Him.”
In his homily, the Holy Father affirmed that the Epiphany is "the 'manifestation' of Christ to peoples," who "are represented by the Magi, the mysterious pilgrims from the East. We celebrate Christ, the goal of peoples' pilgrimage in search of salvation".
"Who," the Pope asked, "are the Magi today? How, our minds upon the modern world, can we interpret these mysterious gospel figures?" To answer this question, he considered Vatican Council II which, he said, was moved "by the desire to announce Christ, light of the world, to modern humanity," and which identified "the need to create a new political and economic world order, and at the same time and above all a spiritual and cultural order, in other words a renewed humanism."
At the beginning of the third millennium, characterized by the phenomenon of globalization, said the Holy Father, there is a risk of losing sight of this challenge, "a risk greatly reinforced by the immense growth of the mass media which, although on the one hand they immeasurably increase our sources of information, on the other they seem to weaken our capacity to achieve a critical overview."
Recalling the final messages of Vatican Council II, the Pope indicated that the first was addressed to rulers and the second to men of thought and science, "two categories of people," he said, "that in some way correspond to the gospel figures of the Magi." To them, he went on, "it is today more than ever necessary to add the representatives of the great non-Christian religious traditions, inviting them to contemplate the light of Christ, Who came not to abolish but to bring to fruition what the hand of God had written in the religious history of civilizations, especially in the 'great souls' who contributed to building humanity with their wisdom and their exemplary virtue. Christ is light, and light cannot obscure but only illuminate, clarify and reveal.
"Therefore," he concluded, "let no one be afraid of Christ and of His message! And if in the course of history Christians, being imperfect and sinful, have sometimes betrayed Him with their behavior, this highlights even more the fact that the light is Christ, and the Church reflects that light only by remaining united to Him."
Following the Mass, the Holy Father also greeted the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, pointing out how the Gospel of Matthew lays great emphasis on the Epiphany, a vitally important event because it marks the beginning of the conversion of "pagan peoples to faith in Christ. ... If, then, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem represent the people of Israel who welcomed the Lord, the Magi are the 'first fruit' of the Gentiles, also called to become part of the Church, the new people of God, no longer based on ethnic, linguistic or cultural homogeneity, but solely on shared faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
"For this reason," he added, "the Epiphany of Christ is at the same time the epiphany of the Church, in other words the expression of her vocation and universal mission." Benedict XVI then went on to greet "our brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches who, following the Julian calendar, will celebrate Christmas tomorrow." He also recalled the fact that today is the World Day of Missionary Children, "the feast of Christian children who live the gift of faith with joy and pray that the light of Christ may reach all children in the world.