If we do not worship God, we will worship idols, pope warns

Pope Francis reminded Catholic faithful on Dec. 6, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, to devote more time to worshiping God even as he said that it is not easy.

“Worshiping God is not something we do spontaneously,” said the pontiff. “True, human beings have a need to worship, but we can risk missing the goal,” he added.

He warned that “if we do not worship God, we will worship idols,” adding that “there is no middle way, it is either God or idols.”

Pope Francis said that it is “particularly necessary” for everyone “to devote more time to worship” especially during these trying times.

“We need to learn ever better how to contemplate the Lord,” he said, noting that people seemed to have “somewhat lost the meaning of the prayer of adoration.”

“We must take it up again, both in our communities and in our own spiritual life,” he said.

The pope celebrated Mass to commemorate the visit of the Magi, the wise men from the East who traveled to see the newborn Jesus, at the Altar of the Chair inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

Only a few members of the public were present and were seated apart from each other in accordance with health protocols.

In his homily, the pope said everyone should learn from the example of the Magi on “how to contemplate the Lord.”

Pope Francis focused on three phrases “that can help us to understand more fully what it means to be worshippers of the Lord: ‘to lift up our eyes,’ ‘to set out on a journey,’ and ‘to see.’”

He said the first expression is taken from the prophet Isaiah who encouraged the people of Israel after they had returned from exile to “lift up” their eyes and look around, despite their problems.

This prophetic call to “look around” does not mean ignoring difficulties and troubles, much less denying reality, said the pope.

“It is a matter of viewing problems and anxieties in a new way, knowing that God is aware of our troubles, attentive to our prayers, and not indifferent to the tears we shed,” he said.

Pope Francis also noted that before the Magi could worship Jesus in Bethlehem, they had to undertake a long journey.

“A journey always involves a change,” he said

“With the passage of time, life’s trials and difficulties, experience in faith, help to purify our hearts, making them humbler and thus more open to God,” added the pontiff.

He said that instead of being discouraged by difficulties, “we should make them opportunities to progress towards the Lord Jesus.”

Then when the Magi arrived in Bethlehem and found Jesus with His mother Mary, “they fell down and worshipped him.”

“Worshipping was an act of homage reserved for sovereigns and high dignitaries,” said the pope.

Pope Francis said that in order to worship the Lord, people “need to ‘see’ beyond the veil of things visible, which often prove deceptive.”

In the Gospel, Herod and the people of Jerusalem “represent a worldliness enslaved to appearances, and immediate attractions,” and so are unable to recognize Jesus for Who He really is, said the pope.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the prayer that the Lord “might make us true worshippers, capable of showing by our lives His loving plan for all humanity.”

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