Pope Benedict reflected on the Magi as “men with a restless heart” during his homily for Epiphany at St. Peter's Basilica Jan. 6, in a Mass at which he consecrated four new bishops.
“They were filled with expectation, not satisfied with their secure income and their respectable place in society. They were looking for something greater...They wanted to know how we succeed in being human,” the Pope said.
“They wanted to understand the truth about ourselves and about God and the world,” he added. “Their outward pilgrimage was an expression of their inward journey, the inner pilgrimage of their hearts.”
“They were men who sought God and were ultimately on the way towards him. They were seekers after God.”
The Magi were the first in a pilgrimage of the Gentiles to Christ, Pope Benedict said, and the consecration of bishops at Epiphany is appropriate because a bishop's role is to lead the way in pilgrimage to Christ.
A bishop “must be gripped by God’s concern for men and women...like the Wise Men from the East,” the pontiff explained.
He noted that bishops must also be men of faith, for “faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world.”
The Magi are an example for the new prelates because they were men of “the courage and humility born of faith.” The Pope recalled how they must have been derided by their contemporaries, as bishops so often are today.
Similarly, “the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous...allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before” a worldly way of thinking.
Pope Benedict then reflected on the experience of the apostles, who were flogged by the Sanhedrin and told not to preach in the name of Christ.
“The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Then they can rejoice that they have been considered worthy of suffering for him.”
He told the men to be ordained as bishops that “if you live with Christ, bound to him anew in this sacrament (of orders), then you too will become wise men. Then you will become stars which go before men and women, pointing out to them the right path in life.”
Shortly after the homily, the Pope consecrated the men, along with co-celebrants Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.
Those ordained bishop were Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Archbishop Nicholas Thevenin, and Archbishop Angelo Zani. Archbishop Gänswein long served as Pope Benedict's personal secretary, and was appointed prefect of the Papal Household on Dec. 7.
The new bishops were invested with book, ring, mitre, and crozier, and were seated in seats called “cathedra” because of their new authority as teachers of the faith.
During the Mass, in addition to his chasuble and other vestments, Pope Benedict wore a “fanon”, a traditional papal vestment that largely disappeared under Paul VI and John Paul II.
The fanon is a circular shoulder-cape worn over the chasuble but beneath the pallium. Pope Benedict has worn the fanon several times since the canonization Mass held Oct. 21.
He concluded his homily by exhorting the new bishops to be saints, imitate the Magi and act as stars guiding their people to the light of Christ.
“The Wise Men followed the star, and thus came to Jesus, to the great Light which enlightens everyone coming into this world,” he said.
“As pilgrims of faith, the Wise Men themselves became stars shining in the firmament of history and they show us the way. The saints are God’s true constellations, which light up the nights of this world, serving as our guides.”