In his Angelus address for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis said that the Three Kings teach us to discover God in poverty, humility, and silence.
The Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Magi — also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings — who came with gifts to worship the Child Jesus shortly after his birth.
In his reflection on the feast, the pope commented that the Magi perhaps “were expecting a powerful and prodigious Messiah,” but instead they found a baby and “met God in poverty.”
He said that the Wise Men “welcome God’s surprise and experience their encounter with him with amazement, adoring him — in his littleness, they recognize God’s face.”
“Humanly, we are all inclined to seek greatness, but it is a gift to know how to truly find it — to know how to find greatness in the littleness that God loves,” Pope Francis said.
“For the Lord is encountered like this: in humility, in silence, in adoration, in the smallest, and in the poor.”
The Solemnity of the Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on Jan. 6, but Catholic dioceses in the United States mark the feast on the Sunday that falls between Jan. 2-8. U.S. Catholics will celebrate the Epiphany this year on Jan. 8.
Epiphany is a national holiday in Italy. According to the Vatican gendarmerie, about 60,000 people were present in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus.
Italian pilgrims gathered at the Vatican for the pope’s Angelus message celebrated the solemnity with costumes, music, decorative banners, and a small parade in the street leading up to St. Peter’s Square.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis thanked the parade participants and said that he was also thinking of the many Three Kings parades taking place in Poland for the feast.
Pope Francis said that the Magi reveal how “God calls us through our aspirations and our greatest desires.”
“The Magi allowed themselves to be amazed and discomforted by the novelty of the star and they set out on a journey toward the unknown. Wise and educated, they were fascinated more by what they did not know than by what they knew. They felt called to go beyond,” he said.
“This is important for us as well — we are called not to be satisfied, to seek the Lord by stepping out of our comfort zone, journeying toward him with others, immersing ourselves in reality. For God calls every day, here and now, in our world.”
Earlier on Friday, Pope Francis presided over a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Epiphany solemnity.
In his homily, the pope encouraged Catholics not to be sedated by the many “tranquilizers of the soul” offered today, like “nonstop media” and “empty promises of pleasure.”
“Often we try to soothe our hearts with creature comforts. … If the Magi had done that, they would never have encountered the Lord,” Pope Francis said.
“Like the Magi, let us fall down and entrust ourselves to God in the wonder of worship. Let us worship God, not ourselves; let us worship God and not the false idols that seduce by the allure of prestige and power … let us love God and not bow down before passing things and evil thoughts, seductive yet hollow and empty,” he said.
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