Asking those present which star they have chosen to follow, Francis noted that some of the stars we choose are bright, but don't point the way.
“So it is with success, money, career, honors and pleasures when these become our life,” he said, calling them meteors that “blaze momentarily,” but quickly burn out and fade away.
“The Lord’s star, however, may not always overwhelm by its brightness, but it is always there: it takes you by the hand in life and accompanies you. It does not promise material reward, but ensures peace and grants, as it did to the Magi, 'exceedingly great joy.'”
After seeing the star, the Magi then set out and follow it to Bethlehem, he said, explaining that to do so meant taking a risk, which we are all required to do if we want to find Jesus.
“Following Jesus is not a polite etiquette to be observed, but a journey to be undertaken,” he said, adding that if we ourselves want to find Jesus, “we have to overcome our fear of taking risks, our self-satisfaction and our indolent refusal to ask anything more of life.”
Pope Francis then noted how when the Magi they arrived to Bethlehem, they offered Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, saying the Gospel “becomes real when the journey of life ends in giving.”
“To give freely, for the Lord’s sake, without expecting anything in return: this is the sure sign that we have found Jesus,” he said. “To do good without counting the cost, even when unasked, even when you gain nothing thereby, even if it is unpleasant. That is what God wants.”
Jesus, who became small and vulnerable for our sake, also asks us to offer something to “the least of our brothers and sisters,” he said, explaining that these are the people who have nothing to give in return, such as the hungry, the needy, the prisoner, the sick and the stranger.
“We give a gift pleasing to Jesus when we care for a sick person, spend time with a difficult person, help someone for the sake of helping, or forgive someone who has hurt us,” he said, stressing that “these are gifts freely given, and they cannot be lacking in the lives of Christians.”
Francis closed his homily urging those present to look at their hands, which are “so often empty of love,” and to think of a free gift they can give without expecting anything in return. This, he said, “will please the Lord.”
After celebrating Mass, Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the traditional Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square. Speaking from the window of the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, he pointed to the “attentive search” for Jesus made by the Magi, the fear of Herod for losing his power and the indifference of the priests and scribes to the prophesy they see being fulfilled.
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Of these attitudes, “we must choose which of the three to assume,” Francis said, explaining that selfishness and the desire to follow human ambitions can make Jesus' coming seem like a threat or an obstacle.
Indifference recognizes the Savior, but prefers to ignore him and live as if he didn't exist, the Pope said, explaining that Christians are called to follow the example of the Magi, who are “ready to be inconvenienced” in order to find Jesus, to adore him and to follow him.
“If we have this attitude, Jesus truly saves us, and we can live a beautiful life, we can grow in faith, hope and love toward God and toward our brothers,” he said, and prayed that Mary would intercede in helping each person to reach Christ, and helping the world to “proceed on the path of justice and peace.”
This article was updated at 12:07p.m. local time with the Pope's words during his Angelus address.