While celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany yesterday, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to develop a “holy cunning” – a spiritual shrewdness that will help them discern danger, steer them toward the good and help them avoid living a mediocre life.
While celebrating Mass in the Vatican Basilica yesterday, Pope Francis said that the destiny of every person is symbolized in the journey of the Magi of the East.
“Our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us”.
This advice is especially helpful when we lose sight of our “star” as the Magi did when they encountered Herod who resorted to killing children rather than allow the newborn King of the Jews to steal away his power.
“The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the Gospel tells us that they experienced ‘a great joy’,” he said.
“One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy ‘cunning’. This holy ‘cunning’ is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of ‘cunning’ when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. … We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: ‘Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves’.”
The example of the Magi helps us to lift our gaze toward the star and to follow the great desires of our hearts, he said.
“They teach us not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of ‘playing it safe’, but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful. . . . And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. . . . ”
He concluded: “By the example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith.”
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