On the Solemnity of the Epiphany on January 6, Pope Francis gave two moving reflections on its meaning. One was his homily at Mass and the other was his Angelus message. Both of his reflections centered on the Magi who, with restless hearts, set out on a journey to encounter Jesus. The Pope expressed that, while different from us, the life journey of the Magi was no different from ours and we have a great deal to learn from them. He stressed, in his homily, that the secret of the Magi was their capacity to desire and “ … that is the way God made us; brimming with desire, directed, like the Magi, toward the stars. With no exaggeration we can say that we are what we desire. For it is our desires that enlarge our gaze and drive our lives beyond the barriers of habit, beyond banal consumerism, beyond a drab and dreary faith, beyond the fear of becoming involved and serving others and the common good.” Encouraging us to follow the example of the Magi, Pope Francis concluded his homily with the exhortation, “Brothers and sisters, let us dream, let us seek and let us adore. ”
Dreaming is an important image for Pope Francis. He frequently speaks of the need to dream and bases it on the dream of God Himself. God’s dream is at the heart of His creation of the human person and of His desire to redeem that person. It is the dream of God which gives us hope in our lives each and every day. Hope is not an illusion of a false sense of security but of a true faith which knows that we are made by God in His image and His likeness with a meaning and a purpose. The dream of our lives is our desire for God. The Pope expressed that, “The crisis of faith in our lives and in our societies also has to do with the eclipse of desire for God. It is related to a kind of slumbering of the spirit, to the habit of being content to live from day-to-day, without ever asking what God really wants from us. ” We need to dream for God as God dreams for us.
Seeking is an important part of our journey in life. Seeking is also close to the heart of God, who goes to seek us especially when we are lost. This seeking part of God is the essence of His becoming incarnate for us and being born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus continually spoke about His seeking out the lost, the sinner, and those who had been forgotten. God’s search is for us because He loves us and wants us to participate fully in His life. As God so earnestly seeks us, we are created with no alternative but to seek Him and in this seeking we find our meaning.
Finally, when the Magi came to Christ, they adored Him. Saint Matthew tells us that, “they fell down and worshipped the child ” (cf. v. 2:11). Adoration and worship are only directed toward God and to no one else. When other things become the subject of our worship and adoration, we lose our identity in our journey. In an analogous sense however, we can reflect that God “adores” us to the point of giving His life for us on the Cross. However, that “adoration” is so that we can be in true adoration of Him, who were created for His presence. As Pope Francis stated, “Let us never forget this: the journey of faith finds renewed strength and fulfillment only when it is made in the presence of God. Only if we recover our ‘taste’ for adoration will our desire be rekindled. Desire leads us to adoration and adoration renews our desire. For our desire for God can only grow when we place ourselves in his presence.” We need to take time to be in the presence of God as the center of our being. This adoration is the heart of who we are and why everything else is given to us.
As we continue our journey during this new year of 2022, we should do so by dreaming, seeking, and adoring. God is at the very center of our life and has become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ so that we can be united with Him no matter what our state in life may be. It is only this union with the Lord which brings us union with who we are and with each other, bringing us the fullness of joy, the very joy of God Himself. “Let us dream, let us seek, and let us adore.” By so doing, we are following in the footsteps of, not only the Magi, but our Lord Himself.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
January 14, 2022