Papal Address on Epiphany
"Christ Is Light, and Light Cannot Darken"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Jan. 6 for the solemnity of the Epiphany.
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SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 6 January 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We celebrate with joy the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the "manifestation" of Christ to the peoples who are represented by the Magi, mysterious figures who came from the East. We celebrate Christ, the destination of the pilgrimage of peoples in search of salvation.
In the First Reading we listened to the Prophet, inspired by God, to contemplate Jerusalem as a beacon of light which guides all the peoples on their journey through the darkness and fog of the earth.
The glory of the Lord shines on the holy City and attracts first of all his own children, displaced and dispersed, but also, at the same time, the pagan nations who come to Zion from all sides as to a common homeland, enriching it with their goods (cf. Is 60:1-6).
The Second Reading presents what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, that is, through God's loving designs the convergence of Jews and Gentiles in the one Church of Christ was "the mystery" made manifest in the fullness of time, the "grace" of which God had made him steward (cf. Eph 3:2-3,5-6).
In a little while we will say in the Preface: "Today, you revealed in Christ your eternal plan of salvation and showed him as the light of all peoples".
Twenty centuries have passed since that mystery was revealed and brought about in Christ, but it has not yet reached fulfillment. My beloved Predecessor, John Paul II, began his Encyclical on the Church's mission by writing: "As the second Millennium after Christ's Coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning" ("Redemptoris Missio," n. 1).
Several spontaneous questions arise: in what sense is Christ still the lumen gentium, the Light of the peoples, today? What point -- if one can so describe it -- has the universal journey of the peoples toward God reached? Is it in a phase of progress or of regression? And further: who are the Magi today? How, thinking of today's world, should we interpret these mysterious figures of the Gospel?
To answer these questions, I would like to return to what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said in this regard. And I am pleased to add that immediately after the Council, the Servant of God, Paul VI, exactly 40 years ago on precisely 26 March 1967, dedicated to the development of the peoples his Encyclical "Populorum Progressio."
The whole of the Second Vatican Council was truly stirred by the longing to proclaim Christ, the Light of the world, to contemporary humanity. In the heart of the Church, from the summit of her hierarchy, emerged the impelling desire, awakened by the Spirit, for a new epiphany of Christ in the world, a world that the modern epoch had profoundly transformed and that, for the first time in history, found itself facing the challenge of a global civilization in which the centre could no longer be Europe or even what we call the West and the North of the world.
The need to work out a new world political and economic order was emerging but, at the same time and above all, one that would be both spiritual and cultural, that is, a renewed humanism.
This observation became more and more obvious: a new world economic and political order cannot work unless there is a spiritual renewal, unless we can once again draw close to God and find God in our midst.
Before the Second Vatican Council, the enlightened minds of Christian thinkers had already intuited and faced this epochal challenge.
Well, at the beginning of the third millennium, we find ourselves in the midst of this phase of human history that now focuses on the word "globalization".
Moreover, we realize today how easy it is to lose sight of the terms of this same challenge, precisely because we are involved in it: this risk is heavily reinforced by the vast expansion of the mass media.
Although, on the one hand, the media increase information indefinitely, on the other, they seem to weaken our capacity for critical synthesis. Today's Solemnity can offer us this perspective, based on the manifestation of a God who revealed himself in history as the Light of the world to guide humanity and lead it at last into the Promised Land where freedom, justice and peace reign. And we see more and more clearly that on our own we cannot foster justice and peace unless the light of a God who shows us his Face is revealed to us, a God who appears to us in the manger of Bethlehem, who appears to us on the Cross.
Who then ...
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