Friday, January 6, 2012


Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the "star" which they saw "in the East" and which they recognized as the star of the "King of the Jews", that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2: 2). So their journey was inspired by a powerful hope, strengthened and guided by the star, which led them towards the King of the Jews, towards the kingship of God himself. This is the meaning behind our journey:  to serve the kingship of God in the world.

The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin.

Dear friends, this is the mystery of God's call, the mystery of vocation. It is part of the life of every Christian, but it is particularly evident in those whom Christ asks to leave everything in order to follow him more closely…

The better you know Jesus the more his mystery attracts you. The more you discover him, the more you are moved to seek him. This is a movement of the Spirit which lasts throughout life, and which makes the seminary a time of immense promise, a true "springtime".

When the Magi came to Bethlehem, "going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Mt 2: 11). Here at last was the long-awaited moment:  their encounter with Jesus.

"Going into the house":  this house in some sense represents the Church. In order to find the Saviour, one has to enter the house, which is the Church… the home of Christ, where "Mary his mother" dwells.

It is Mary who shows him Jesus her Son; she introduces him and in a sense enables him to see and touch Jesus, and to take him into his arms. Mary teaches the seminarian to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of the heart and to make Jesus his very life.

Each moment of… life can be an opportunity for loving experience of the presence of Our Lady, who introduces everyone to an encounter with Christ in the silence of meditation, prayer and fraternity. Mary helps us to meet the Lord above all in the celebration of the Eucharist, when, in the Word and in the consecrated Bread, he becomes our daily spiritual nourishment.

"They fell down and worshiped him... and offered him gifts:  gold, frankincense and myrrh" (Mt 2: 11-12). Here is the culmination of the whole journey:  encounter becomes adoration; it blossoms into an act of faith and love which acknowledges in Jesus, born of Mary, the Son of God made man.

How can we fail to see prefigured in this gesture of the Magi the faith of Simon Peter and of the other Apostles, the faith of Paul and of all the saints, particularly of the many saintly seminarians and priests who have graced the 2,000 years of the Church's history?

The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will. St Ambrose said:  "Christ is everything for us"; and St Benedict warned against putting anything before the love of Christ.

May Christ be everything for you…[B]e the first to offer him what is most precious to you, as Pope John Paul II suggested in his Message for this World Youth Day:  the gold of your freedom, the incense of your ardent prayer, the myrrh of your most profound affection (cf. n. 4).

..The Magi "departed for their own country" and most certainly bore witness to their encounter with the King of the Jews.

On their homeward journey, the Magi surely had to deal with dangers, weariness, disorientation, doubts. The star was no longer there to guide them! The light was now within them. Their task was to guard and nourish it in the constant memory of Christ, of his Holy Face, of his ineffable Love.

…Remember always the words of Jesus: "Abide in my love" (Jn 15: 9). If you abide close to Christ, with Christ and in Christ, you will bear much fruit, just as he promised. You have not chosen him - we have just heard this in the witnesses given -, he has chosen you (cf. Jn 15: 16). 

Address to Seminarians
19 August 2005 - World Youth Day

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