"The Magi "were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more. ... They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary. They were men in search ... of God, ... watchful men, capable of reading God's signs, His soft and penetrating language. But they were also courageous, yet humble: we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort." - Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2012 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today, the Pope presided at Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. During the ceremony he conferred episcopal ordination upon archbishops-elect Msgr. Charles John Brown, apostolic nuncio to Ireland, and Msgr. Marek Solczynski, apostolic nuncio to Georgia and Armenia. The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the two new archbishops.

In his homily the Holy Father reflected on today's Gospel reading, the narrative of the Magi who came from the East to Bethlehem to adore the Baby Jesus, which he compared with the mission of bishops in the Church.

"The wise men from the East ... open up the path of the gentiles to Christ. During this holy Mass, I will ordain two priests to the episcopate, I will consecrate them as shepherds of God's people. According to the words of Jesus, part of a shepherd's task is to go ahead of the flock. So, allowing for all the differences in vocation and mission, we may well look to these figures, the first gentiles to find the pathway to Christ, for indications concerning the task of bishops".

The Magi "were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more. ... They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary. They were men in search ... of God, ... watchful men, capable of reading God's signs, His soft and penetrating language. But they were also courageous, yet humble: we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort. For them it mattered little what this or that person, what even influential and clever people thought and said about them. For them it was a question of truth itself, not human opinion. Hence they took upon themselves the sacrifices and the effort of a long and uncertain journey. Their humble courage was what enabled them to bend down before the child of poor people and to recognise in Him the promised King, the One they had set out, on both their outward and their inward journey, to seek and to know".

"How can we fail to recognise in all this certain essential elements of episcopal ministry? The bishop too must be a man of restless heart, not satisfied with the ordinary things of this world, but inwardly driven by his heart's unrest to draw ever closer to God, to seek His face, to recognise Him more and more, to be able to love Him more and more. The bishop too must be a man of watchful heart, who recognises the gentle language of God and understands how to distinguish truth from mere appearance. The bishop too must be filled with the courage of humility, not asking what prevailing opinion says about him, but following the criterion of God's truth and taking his stand accordingly. ... He must be able to go ahead and mark out the path, ... in the footsteps of Him who went ahead of us all because He is the true shepherd: ... Jesus Christ. And he must have the humility to bend down before the God Who made Himself so tangible and so simple that He contradicts our foolish pride in its reluctance to see God so close and so small.

"The liturgy of episcopal ordination interprets the essential features of this ministry in eight questions addressed to the candidates. ... These questions direct the will and mark out the path to be followed. Here I shall briefly cite just a few of the most important words of this presentation, where we find explicit mention of the elements we have just considered in connection with the wise men of today's feast. ... Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, going ahead and leading, guarding the sacred heritage of our faith, showing mercy and charity to the needy and the poor, thus mirroring God's merciful love for us, and finally, praying without ceasing: these are the fundamental features of the episcopal ministry. Praying without ceasing means: never losing contact with God, letting ourselves be constantly touched by Him in the depths of our hearts. ... Only someone who actually knows God can lead others to God".

"Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetising methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God's heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until He finds us. ... That is why He set out on the path towards us, to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. God ... looks out for people willing to 'catch' His unrest, His passion for us, people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts. ... This was the task of the Apostles: to receive God's unrest for man and then to bring God Himself to man. And this is your task as successors of the Apostles".

"The wise men followed the star. ... The wise men from the East, ... like all the saints, have themselves gradually become constellations of God that mark out the path. ... The saints are stars of God, by whom we let ourselves be led to Him for Whom our whole being longs. ... As you are ordained bishops, you too are called to be stars of God for men, leading them along the path towards the true light, towards Christ".

HML/                                           VIS 20120107 (1000)

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