During the Mass for the Solemnity of Epiphany, Pope Francis reflects on the meaning of adoration.
Worship – adoration – “is the end and goal” of the journey of the Magi, the focus of the Solemnity of Epiphany. “Once we lose the sense of worship,” Pope Francis said in his homily, “we lose our direction in Christian life, which is a journey towards the Lord, not towards ourselves.”
The Gospel, he said, warns about the risks for those who are incapable of worship. From Herod, “who used the word ‘worship’, but only to deceive,” we learn that “when we do not worship God, we end up worshipping ourselves.” The chief priests and scribes, likewise, are incapable of worship. Although they know the prophecies, “and can quote them exactly,” they are unable to go there themselves. “In the Christian life,” the Pope said, “it is not enough to be knowledgeable, unless we step out of ourselves, unless we encounter others, and worship, we cannot know God.”
Pope Francis prayed that at the start of the new year, we might “discover anew that faith demands worship.” Adoration, he said, “means putting the Lord at the centre, not ourselves.”
He explained that worship means “making space for God’s plan,” realising that we belong with God, and “being able to speak to him freely and intimately.” Worship, the Pope said, means discovering that, “in order to pray, it is enough to say ‘My Lord and my God’ and to allow ourselves to be pervaded by His tender love.”
The Pope said that “worship is an act of love that changes our lives.” Although we have some idea of what it means to pray, he said “the Church must go even further with the prayer of adoration, we have to grow in adoration. It is a wisdom that we must learn each day”.
By praying in adoration, Pope Francis continued, “we allow Jesus to heal and to change us… to transform us by His love, to kindle light amid our darkness, to grant us strength in weakness, and courage amid trials.” Worshipping God, he said, frees us from slavery to the idols of today, which must not be worshipped, such as “the god of money, the god of consumerism, the god of pleasure, the god of success, the god of self.” The Pope said that “worship means bending low before the Most High, and discovering in His presence that life’s greatness consists not in having, but in loving.”
“Many Christians pray, but they do not worship,” Pope Francis said. “It is up to us, as a Church, to put into practice the words we prayed in today’s psalm: ‘All the peoples of the earth will worship you, O Lord.’” Only then, he said, will we too discover “like the Magi, the meaning of our journey.”
Following Mass, Pope Francis during his Angelus, addressed a special thought “to the brethren of the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, many of whom celebrate the Lord’s Christmas tomorrow (7 January).”
We wish them and their communities, he said, “the light and peace of Christ the Saviour.”
During his Angelus address, the Pope drawing from the Gospel of the day dwelt on the three wise men.
The Pontiff described how after encountering the baby Jesus, their lives were changed. “They saw a different king, a king ‘who is not of this world,’ meek and humble, yet indicated in agreement by the stars and the Holy Scriptures.”
The Pope went on to explain that “the encounter with Jesus does not hold back the Magi, on the contrary, it gives them a new impetus to return to their country, to tell what they saw and the joy they felt.”
The experience of knowing God, remarked Pope Francis, “does not block us, but frees us; it does not imprison us, but it puts us back on the road…”
The Gospel passage, he emphasised, “contains a detail which prompts our reflection. At the end of the story, it is said that the Magi were ‘warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and by another route they returned to their country.’”
Every experience of meeting Jesus, noted the Pope, “leads us to take different paths, because from Him comes a good force that heals the heart and detaches us from evil.”
“This is the difference between the true God and traitorous idols, such as money, power, success…between God and those who promise to give you these idols, such as magicians, fortune tellers, sorcerers,” he said.
“The true God does not hold us back, nor does He let Himself be held back by us: He opens to us ways of novelty and freedom.”
Vatican News and Christopher Wells – Pope at Epiphany: Church must grow in adoration