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Three Wise Men symbolize the 'destiny of man,' Pope preaches

In his homily for the Feast of the Epiphany today, Pope Francis said that the journey of the Magi, or Three Wise Men, is symbolic of what he called "the destiny of man."

Pope Francis preaches his homily during Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany today at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

“The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East, our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and of love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World,” the Holy Father said, further stating that in following a light, the Magi were searching for "the Light."

“The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ,” the Pope said. Francis highlighted how the Wise Men were able to encounter Christ by "faithfully following the Light." Every person is called to so as the Magi and journey following the Light, said the Pope. “Every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage, the 'book' of Creation and the book of Sacred Scripture.”

"What is most important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us,” the Pontiff preached, “in listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially enables us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.” Speaking of King Herod, Francis observed that “Herod proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail Child whom he thought of as a rival, but in realty Jesus came not to overthrow him, a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world! The king and his counsellors sensed that the foundations of their power were crumbling, and they feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside-down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on power, on success and on possessions was being thrown into crisis by a Child!”

The Magi were able to overcome the darkness that this thinking represented “because they believed the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so they resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star and experienced ‘a great joy,’” preached the Pope. A unique aspect of the Light of Christ, the Pope observed, is what he called "holy cunning," or “that spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and to avoid it. The Magi used this light of ‘cunning’ when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. The Wise Men teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life,” said the Pontiff.

“We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness.”

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