Pope Francis presided at the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, and contrasted the Magi’s “holy longing for God” with Herod’s “cauterized conscience.”
The Magi “personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland,” Pope Francis preached. “A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present.”
A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life. A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom. That longing keeps hope alive in the community of believers, which from week to week continues to plead: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
“Herod is unable to worship because he could not or would not change his own way of looking at things,” the Pope said. “He did not want to stop worshiping himself, believing that everything revolved around him. He was unable to worship, because his aim was to make others worship him. Nor could the priests worship, because although they had great knowledge, and knew the prophecies, they were not ready to make the journey or to change their ways.”
Pope Francis concluded:
The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day. But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness. There something new was taking place. The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out. And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.