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of Mother Anna Maria Cánopi

“Everyone comes to you,” he sings again
the liturgy; but this “going”
it is always at the beginning, it is always in need
to be pushed again

On the threshold of the new year we find welcoming us, with a reassuring smile, She who the Council of Ephesus fully recognized as "Mother of God". As a humble and at the same time very high throne, she holds the Rex Pacificus on her knees. Happily, therefore, the Church has made the choice to celebrate the "day of peace" on January 1st.
Almost taken by the hand and guided by Mary, we set off, therefore, along the paths of this new space of time that the Lord gives us to return to him with all our hearts.
The liturgy makes us stop again at the Bethlehem cave, where we find the Virgin Mother who, after the visit of the shepherds, is meditating in her heart what is happening around her and what is being said about the Child she holds in her arms.

This attitude of hers makes her a beautiful example of listening, prayer and meditation for us. There in the cave, in silent contemplation, she already seems to contemplate, reflected in the eyes of Jesus, the history of all humanity still unaware of having a Savior, and for this very reason in need of her maternal help to be oriented towards him.
And here, at the height of the Christmas season, the solemnity of the Epiphany: a festival of light in which the fullness of the mystery of the Incarnation shines, just like Pentecost in reference to the Paschal mystery.
The Church - lumen gentium - opens all its doors so that the light of Christ spreads throughout the universe and envelops and penetrates everything and everyone. She feels like the protagonist of this "event", which is why she adorns herself like a bride who invites everyone to rejoice. In this celebration the words of Isaiah resonate in all their strength and beauty:
«Arise, clothe yourself with light, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. The people will walk in your light..." (60,1-3).
The universalism inaugurated by Christ is thus presented in the glittering prophetic language. This aspect of universality is highlighted in the liturgy especially through the interpretation of the event that now characterizes the feast of the Epiphany: the adoration of the Magi. In the three characters who came from distant regions, following the guidance of the star that appeared to them, we wanted to see, since the first centuries of Christianity, the call of all people to salvation. All the frontiers of nationalistic exclusivism are thus demolished: the God of Israel, born a man from the lineage of David, born in Bethlehem of Judah, manifests himself as God and Savior of all the inhabitants of the earth and becomes the first citizen of a new people constituted and established by him – by law of love – in unity.
The star, which guides the Magi on their journey, enriches this festival not only with poetic beauty, but also with theological strength: in it we see the symbol of faith that illuminates men internally to lead them to knowledge and an encounter with God.
«We saw his star in the east and came to adore him», say the magi. The star is therefore the sign, the radiation of the immortal light which is Christ. It also constitutes, one can say, a proof of the divine power of the Child born in Bethlehem, since with his shining and his stopping above the hut he "confesses" God, as he sings a hymn of the celebration and, by confessing it, pays homage to him from part of all the celestial bodies: «What then was this star – writes Saint Augustine – which had never before been seen among the stars, if not the magnificent praise of the sky which thus proclaimed the glory of God? ».
The incarnate God manifests himself not only to humanity, but to the entire creation. And just as the magi - humanity - seeing the star shine internally, leap with joy and move towards the source of light, so certainly, even if in a way that cannot be perceived by us, the cosmos leaps with joy at the appearance of the Christ and everything converges towards him, as around a planetary center of gravitation.
"Everyone comes to you", the liturgy still sings; but this “going” is always at the beginning, it always needs to be pushed again. Therefore the collection of the feast makes us ask: «O God who on this day, with the guidance of the star, have revealed your only Son to the people, lead us also kindly, who have already known you by faith, to contemplate the greatness of your glory." In addition to the symbol of the star, the liturgy of the manifestation of the Lord presents the symbol of the gifts that the magi offer to the Messiah: gold is offered to Jesus as a sign of his royalty; incense – which indicates adoration and worship – as a sign of his divinity; myrrh as a sign of his true humanity and as an omen of his Passion, death and burial. With their gifts, however, the magi also offer themselves. Significant is the fact that they were often represented in the act of placing their crowns at the feet of the Child, recognized as the one and only true King of all peoples, to whom we owe the respect of faith, obedience and humble service.
The mystery contemplated in the Epiphany is only the beginning of the "manifestation" of the Lord; it immediately expands during the liturgical year, in two other important events in the life of Christ: his baptism and his first miracle performed at Cana, as the beautiful Gregorian antiphon sings which, with a contemplative gaze, unites them in the same light : «Three miracles illustrated the holy day we celebrate: today the star led the magi to the nativity scene; today the water was changed into wine at the wedding banquet; today Christ wanted to be baptized by John in the Jordan to save us.
With supernatural freedom the liturgy overcomes historical laws and presents in marvelous synthesis the various aspects of the one salvific mystery of Christ. But there is more: from that extra-temporal today, here it passes splendidly to a mystical interpretation of the facts: «Today the Church united with the celestial Bridegroom, since Christ washed his impurities in the Jordan: the wise men rush with gifts to the wedding gifts, and the guests rejoice at the water being changed into wine. Alleluia".
Everything is unified: of the three events separated in time now only stands out the joy of the royal wedding of the Church - of redeemed humanity - with the divine Person of the incarnate Word.
The liturgy of the Baptism of the Lord - on the Sunday following the solemnity of the Epiphany, as well as that of the Sundays immediately following - therefore continues to develop the theme of the manifestation of the Lord. After being in Bethlehem, here we are on the banks of the Jordan where John the Baptist is baptizing. Jesus is among the crowd and presents himself to the Forerunner as a simple Israelite to receive the baptism of purification from him.
This event puts us before a shocking mystery of humility. The Son of God not only became man, but took on the weight and responsibility of the sin of man of all times, to present himself to the Father in the condition of a repentant son who begins to walk the path of return.
In the episode of the Baptism, in fact, the salvific mission of Jesus is already clearly outlined: he has now left the house and workshop of Nazareth, where for about thirty years he had dedicated himself to the "things of the Father", sanctifying in his our daily life. Now his work is hastening to completion. It is the Father himself who brings him out of the shadows and shows him to us by proclaiming him his beloved Son and his faithful Servant.
In John's cry: "Behold the Lamb, behold he who takes away the sins of the world", there is already a foreshadowing of the paschal mystery, that is, of the new baptism, truly regenerating, which the suffering "Servant of God" would inaugurate with his baptism of blood.
In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus therefore does not simply receive a baptism of purification - he did not need this - but receives a solemn investiture: he is openly constituted Messiah by the Father and manifested to the world as such.
Therefore whoever meets him is now faced with a radical choice: accept him and follow him or reject him and continue to wait on the deserted road for someone who has already passed.
John the Baptist, who had the incredible adventure of baptizing the immaculate Lamb of God, was the first to recognize it and bear witness to it: «I contemplated the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and remaining upon him. I did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize in water said to me: "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, it is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit." And I saw and testified that this is the Son of God" (Jn 1,32:34-XNUMX).
He is the Son of God. Not even a shadow of a doubt. And he!
The words of the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem come to mind: "You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger". Here is the sign that it is him. And the sign given to the Magi also comes to mind: where the star stopped, he was there.
But to see it and recognize it you need to look beyond appearances, you need to have a supernatural light inside, that of faith.

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