Things That Matter

These 9 Lessons From the Pope’s Día De Los Reyes Magos Mass Are a Must Read for an Incredible New Year

Pope Francis delivered a special homily for El Día de los Reyes Magos, or the Solemnity of the Epiphany, and truly honed in on the significance of the January 6 holiday.

Pope Francis is known for being more forward-thinking and opinionated than almost any other Pope in history, with views ranging from fighting against climate change to believing in evolution. The Buenos Aires, Argentina-born Pope once famously questioned, “Who am I to judge?” when talking about gay marriage, and has an open stance on divorce.

Slowly bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century, Pope Francis talked about deeply significant, unexpected topics during his Epiphany discourse today, and much of it left us speechless. El Día de los Reyes Magos has always been a special day for us, one where we cut la rosca de reyes with our family and friends (hoping someone else gets the baby Jesus doll so they can host tamale night on February 2), leave out shoeboxes full of grass for the Magi’s camels, and even leave our shoes out so they can be filled with small gifts.

Still, sometimes we forget about the real significance of the holiday: the three wise men, or Magi, following the Star of Bethlehem to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ. Today, Pope Francis put it all back into perspective, and linked it to the modern day. Here’s everything we learned!

1. The Pope linked the Magi’s travels to our own spiritual journey.

In his speech, Pope Francis talked about how the three wise men Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar had riches galore, even bringing gold to baby Jesus Christ. They were content in their economic position, but still found the “spirit of healthy restlessness” and “desire” to get in touch with their faith and set off on their quest to meet Christ. 

2. The speech also talked about life’s mysteries, and the importance of an “inner zeal” for them.

Following his discussion about living like the Magi in our search for faith and truth, the Pope also talked about having a “spark” of curiosity for life’s surprises, and the intangible. He explained that our own religious faith and the three wise men’s journey mean “embracing life as a mystery that surpasses us, as an ever-present cranny in the wall that beckons us to look into the distance, since life is not just our here and now, but something much greater.”

3. Pope Francis also surprisingly mentioned Vincent Van Gogh.

While most of his discourse centered on the Magi, His Holiness also spoke about 19th century Dutch Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. He first compared life to “a blank canvas that cries out for color,” referencing the deep meaning behind it all. He then said that the “great painter” Van Gogh “once said that his need for God drove him to go outside at night to paint the stars,” linking that desire to the three kings’ journey following the Star of Bethlehem to seek out Jesus Christ. 

4. As a socialist-leaning Pope, His Holiness decried consumerism.  

It’s no secret that Pope Francis is left-leaning when it comes to economics, writing in 2013 that financial inequality is the “root of social ills,” and going against reducing the wealthy’s income tax rates. Once saying we should “restore to the poor what belongs to them,” it’s no wonder the Pope said in his speech today that we should go “beyond banal consumerism” that makes our faith “drab and dreary.” 

5. The discourse also mentioned the importance of helping community.

Following his denouncement of consumerism many times linked to selfishness or greed (although of course we’re all guilty of it — especially around the holidays), Pope Francis called for “becoming involved and serving others” instead of buying things. He described how helping other people and your community leads to a “common good.”

6. Pope Francis also spoke about the power of “desire” and positivity.

Anyone familiar with the law of attraction could recognize some of its teachings in the Pope’s speech today. While the law of attraction is based on positive thoughts bringing more positive outcomes to your life, Pope Francis instead centered on desire. He explained, “we are what we desire. For it is our desires that enlarge our gaze and drive our lives forward.” He even quoted Saint Augustine, stating, “our entire life is an exercise of holy desire.”

7. Seemingly speaking to our current lives in the pandemic, the Pope set to inspire viewers.

Throughout the pandemic, many of us have felt stuck in our daily routines, finding it difficult to find the “zeal” for faith and life that Pope Francis calls for. He linked that feeling of motionlessness to living in “a spirit of a parking lot.” He described, “we stay parked, without the impulse of desire that carries us forward.” So what to do? He recommends asking ourselves, “Where are we on our journey of faith?” 

8. As is his style, the Pope went against religious conventions.

His Holiness isn’t one for strict traditions, shown throughout his speeches that accept and challenge real-world, present-day issues. He asked, “have we been stuck all too long, nestled inside a conventional, external and formal religiosity that no longer warms our hearts and changes our lives?” Pope Francis suggests rebelling against that kind of “religiosity,” where believers are “content with maintenance” and priests “fall into clerical functionalism.” Instead, he calls on following a feeling of “explosive and unsettling joy” within your faith.

9. The Pope also talked about a “crisis” within our society today.

Pope Francis linked the many issues and conflicts going on in the world today to “the crisis of faith in our lives and in our societies,” all due to a lack of “desire for God.” He described our status quo as a “slumbering of the spirit,” and the “habit of being content” instead of wanting more. He explains, “we are fixated on our own needs, on what we will eat and wear, even as we let the longing for greater things evaporate” and how many of us feel “emptiness in our hearts.” That is why he calls on us to get inspired by the Magi and follow our own Star of Bethlehem in rediscovering and getting excited about our faith.

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