Pontiff: To See the Star, One Needs Humility

Urges Faithful to Pray for "Wise and Innocent Heart"

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Why is it that some are moved by faith, and others are not? According to Benedict XVI, it's a matter of genuine humility, and the ability to be a child at heart.



The Pope reflected on genuine humility Wednesday, which he defined as the ability "to submit to what is greater."

In his homily for the solemnity of the Epiphany, which is celebrated in the Vatican on Jan. 6, the Pontiff noted that one also needs "genuine courage" to believe in God, especially when God is manifested as a "defenseless child."

Lamenting that "believers in Jesus Christ always seem to be few," the Holy Father noted that what is lacking is "the capacity to be children at heart, to be amazed, and to come out of oneself to undertake the way indicated by the star, the way of God."

He urged the faithful to ask God for "a wise and innocent heart, which will allow us to see the star of his mercy, which will lead us on his way, to meet him and be inundated by the great light and the true joy that he has brought to this world."

Prophecy fulfilled

Benedict XVI reflected on two passages of Scripture highlighted on the feast day, which bring together a prophecy and its fulfillment regarding the birth of the Messiah.

The first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah relates a "splendid vision" for Israel, the Pope said. "After the humiliations suffered by the people of Israel on the part of the powers of this world, [Isaiah] sees the moment in which the great light of God, seemingly powerless and incapable of protecting his people, rises over the whole earth, so that the kings of the nations bow before him.

"They come from all the ends of the earth and deposit at his feet their most precious treasures. And the heart of the people vibrates with joy."
 
The Holy Father said the second passage, from the Gospel of Matthew, seems "poor and ragged" compared to the vision of Isaiah: "It seems impossible to us to recognize there the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah."

The Pontiff pointed out that the Magi who came from the East weren't the powerful kings of the earth, but rather unknown figures "unworthy of special attention."

"The inhabitants of Jerusalem are informed about what happened, but do not consider it necessary to be bothered," the Holy Father explained. "Not even in Bethlehem does it seem that there is someone who is concerned about the birth of this Child, called King of the Jews by the Magi, or about these men who came from the East to visit him."

But rather than interpreting the visit of the Magi as "a brief dispensable episode, which ends with the hasty return of the Magi to their country," Benedict XVI calls it "a beginning."

The first of many

The Pope noted that with the Magi, "something new has begun." The Wise Men from the East were the first, but not the last, "of the great procession of those who, through all the periods of history, know how to recognize the message of the star."

Those who follow the star, the Holy Father continued, "are able to encounter him who is apparently weak and fragile, but who is able to give the greatest and most profound joy to man's heart."

The Pontiff explained that the God's "greatness and power are not expressed in the logic of the world, but in the logic of a defenseless child, whose strength is only that of love entrusted to us."

"In the course of history," he said, "there have always been persons illuminated by the light of the star, who find the way and reach him. All of them live, in their own way, the same experience of the Magi."

What's missing?

But what about those who have seen the star, but have not understood its message? Benedict XVI asked: "What is the reason that some see and others do not? What is it that opens the eyes and heart? What is missing in those who remain indifferent, from those who indicate the way but do not move?"

The Pope noted some reasons as being "excessive certainty in themselves, the pretension of knowing reality perfectly, the presumption of already having formulated a definitive judgment on things, thus making their hearts closed and insensitive to the novelty of God."

He also noted that some are "certain of the idea they have of the world and do not let themselves be moved in their deepest being by the adventure of a God who wants to meet them."

"They place more confidence in themselves than in him," the Holy Father said, "and they do not consider it possible that God, being so great, can make himself small, that he can really come close to us."
 
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