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The mystery of the Church and her missionary dimension are also revealed in the liturgical context of the Epiphany. She is called to make Christ’s light shine in the world, reflecting it in herself as the moon reflects the light of the sun.

The ancient prophecies concerning the holy city of Jerusalem, such as the marvellous one in Isaiah that we have just heard:  “Rise up in splendour! Your light has come…. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance” (Is 60: 1-3), have found fulfilment in the Church.

This is what disciples of Christ must do:  trained by him to live in the way of the Beatitudes, they must attract all people to God through a witness of love:  “In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your deeds and give praise to your heavenly Father” (Mt 5: 16). By listening to Jesus’ words, we members of the Church cannot but become aware of the total inadequacy of our human condition, marked by sin.

The Church is holy, but made up of men and women with their limitations and errors. It is Christ, Christ alone, who in giving us the Holy Spirit is able to transform our misery and constantly renew us. He is the light of the peoples, the lumen gentium, who has chosen to illumine the world through his Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1).

“How can this come about?”, we also ask ourselves with the words that the Virgin addresses to the Archangel Gabriel. And she herself, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, gives us the answer:  with her example of total availability to God’s will – “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” (Lk 1: 38) – she teaches us to be a “manifestation” of the Lord, opening our hearts to the power of grace and faithfully abiding by the words of her Son, light of the world and the ultimate end of history.
So be it!

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Pope Benedict XVI

Homily on the Solemnity of the Epiphany

January 1, 2006


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