He noted that this light is necessary if the Church is to fulfill her vocation of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the world.
For the Church, being a missionary “does not mean to proselytize,” but rather “to give expression to her very nature, which is to receive God’s light and then to reflect it.”
“This is her service. There is no other way. Mission is her vocation; to reflect the light of God and to serve,” he affirmed.
Pope Francis then encouraged attendees to ask themselves the same question as the Magi in the Gospel: “Where is the child who has been born the King of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
He highlighted the importance, particularly in our age, of seeking the signs God is giving and of realizing the great effort that is needed to interpret these signs and therefore understand the will of God.
We are challenged, he said, “to go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother. Let us follow the light which God offers us!”
Once we have found the Lord, “let us worship him with all our heart, and present him with our gifts: our freedom, our understanding and our love. Let us recognize that true wisdom lies concealed in the face of this Child.”
Francis closed his homily by emphasizing that the entire life of the Church is summed up in the “simplicity” of Bethlehem.
It is there, he said, where we find “the wellspring of that light which draws to itself every individual and guides the journey of the peoples along the path of peace.”
After Mass Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the traditional Angelus prayer, telling them that the experience of the Magi “impels us not to accept mediocrity, not to ‘just get along,’ but to search for the meaning of things, to passionately scrutinize the great mystery of life.”
“They teach us not to be scandalized by littleness and poverty, but to recognize the majesty of humility and to know how to kneel before it.”
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Once he concluded the prayer, Francis extended his greeting to Eastern Christians, Catholic and Orthodox, many of whom celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, the day after the Epiphany.
He then noted that Jan. 6 coincides the World Day of Missionary Childhood, saying the day celebrates children, “who with their prayer and sacrifice, help their most needy peers to become missionaries and witnesses of fraternity and coexistence.”