3rd January 2021 – 2nd Sunday of Christmas

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Next Wednesday, 6th January, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas (6th January) and the manifestation of the Lord to the pagan nations represented by the Wise men from the East.

According to an ancient tradition, the relics of the Three Magi are kept in the beautiful Cathedral of Cologne in Germany. The Shrine of the Magi is the largest, most artistically significant, and, in terms of its content, most ambitious reliquary of the Middle Ages. The relics were brought to Cologne from Milan in 1164. From about 1190 to 1220 a number of artisans worked on the shrine, making it beautiful with gold-and silver-embossed, fire-gilded figures, filigree panels set with precious and semi-precious stones, intaglios, and cameos, and columns, arches and profiles trimmed with enamels. The images depicted on the shrine include scenes from creation to the Last Judgment. Although the shrine was shortened after being hidden from French revolutionary troops in 1794, it was largely restored to its original shape in the 60’s and 70’s. The shrine rises above the medieval high altar at the back of the inner choir, making this area the main focus of the Gothic cathedral, which was built as a stone reliquary for this precious shrine.

In 2005, over a million young people went on pilgrimage to this ancient shrine for World Youth Day. I was there as a newly ordained priest. This was pope Benedict XVI’s first apostolic journey outside of Italy and the first to his home country. He said that when the Magi found Jesus in the stable, their pilgrimage had finished… “But at this point a new journey began for them, an inner pilgrimage which changed their whole lives. Their mental picture of the infant King they were expecting to find must have been very different”. Our God is therefore the God of the surprises. We are also invited to make our pilgrimage to him and once we have found him to adore him. As on those days in Cologne we are invited to adore him present in the Eucharist. Spend some time with him, allow him to change your heart.

Fr Javier

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