(Vatican Radio) After the Solemn Mass for the Epiphany, Pope Benedict led the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square in the traditional noon-day Angelus. Below, please find Pope Benedict's remarks during Sunday's Angelus address:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Please forgive the lateness. I ordained four bishops today in St. Peter's Basilica, and the rite lasted a little longer than normal. But today we celebrate above all the Epiphany of the Lord, His manifestation to the people; while numerous Oriental Churches celebrate Christmas, in accordance with the Julian calendar. This slight difference, which superimposes these two events, highlights the fact that the Child, born in the humble grotto in Bethlehem, is the light of the world that guides the paths of all peoples. It is a combination that is reflected even from the point of view of the faith: on the one hand, at Christmas, in the presence of Jesus, we see the faith of Mary, of Joseph, and of the shepherds; on the other, in the Epiphany, we see the faith of the Magi, who have come from the East to adore the King of the Jews.
The Virgin Mary, together with her husband, represents the “branch” of Israel, the “remnant” foretold by the prophets, from which the Messiah will spring forth. The Magi represent the people – we can even say the civilisations, the cultures, the religions – that are, so to speak, on the path to God, in search of his reign of peace, of justice, of truth, and of liberty. First there is a nucleus, embodied above all by Mary, the “daughter of Sion”: a nucleus of Israel, the people that know and have faith in that God that was revealed to the Patriarchs and in the passage of history. This faith reaches its fulfilment in Mary, in the fullness of time: in her, “blessed because she has believed,” the Word was made flesh, God has “appeared” in the world. The faith of Mary becomes the first fruits and the model of the faith of the Church, the People of the New Covenant. But this people, from the beginning, is universal; and we see this today in the figure of the Magi, who come to Bethlehem following the light of a star and the indications of the Sacred Scriptures.
Saint Leo the Great says, “An innumerable succession was once promised to Abraham, which would be begotten not according to the flesh, but in the fertility of the faith” (Sermon 3 for Epiphany, 1: PL 54, 240). Mary’s faith can be compared to that of Abraham: it is the new beginning of the same promise, of the same immutable plan of God, that now finds its fulfilment in Jesus Christ. And the light of Christ is so clear and strong that it makes the language of the cosmos and of the Scriptures intelligible, so that all those who, like the Magi, are open to the truth can recognise it and join in contemplating the Saviour of the world. Saint Leo continues, “Let the fullness of the peoples enter into the family of the patriarchs, let it enter . . . Let all the people . . . adore the Creator of the universe, and let God be known not only in Judea, but in all the earth” (ibid.). It is from this perspective that we can view the episcopal ordinations which I had the joy of conferring this morning in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Two of the new bishops will remain in service at the Holy See; while the other two will depart to become Papal Representatives in different countries. Let us pray for each of them, and for their respective ministries, that the light of Christ might shine forth throughout the whole world.
After the Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims and visitors from around the world. These are his remarks in English:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present today, including the boys of the Palestrina Choir of Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, who sang this morning at the solemn Mass of the Epiphany. At that ceremony I had the joy of conferring episcopal ordination upon four priests, including Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu of Nigeria. May the new Bishops be faithful successors of the Apostles, always bearing witness to Christ, who today reveals the face of God to the nations. May the Lord bless all of you and grant you his peace!