A year ago, Pope John Paul the Great describe the Magi to the Youth of the world and compared the Journey of the Magi to the pilgrimage of the world's Youth to Cologne:
""And the star... went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was" (Mt 2:9). The Magi reached Bethlehem because they had obediently allowed themselves to be guided by the star. Indeed, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Mt 2:10). It is important, my dear friends, to learn to observe the signs with which God is calling us and guiding us. When we are conscious of being led by Him, our heart experiences authentic and deep joy as well as a powerful desire to meet Him and a persevering strength to follow Him obediently.
""And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother" (Mt 2:11). There is nothing extraordinary about this at first sight. Yet that Child was different from any other: He is the only Son of God, yet He emptied Himself of His glory (cf Phil 2:7) and came to earth to die on the Cross. He came down among us and became poor in order to reveal to us His divine glory, which we shall contemplate fully in heaven, our blessed home.
"Who could have invented a greater sign of love? We are left in awe before the mystery of a God who lowered himself to take on our human condition, to the point of giving His life for us on the Cross (cf Phil 2:6-8). In His poverty, - as Saint Paul reminds us - "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9), and came to offer salvation to sinners. How can we give thanks to God for such magnanimous goodness?
"The Magi found Jesus at "Bêth-lehem" which means "house of bread". In the humble stable in Bethlehem on some straw lay the "grain of wheat" who, by dying, would bring forth "much fruit" (cf Jn 12:24). When speaking of Himself and His saving mission in the course of His public life, Jesus would later use the image of bread. He would say "I am the bread of life", "I am the bread which came down from heaven", "the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh". (Jn 6: 35.41.51).
"Faithfully pursuing the path of our Redeemer from the poverty of the Crib to His abandonment on the Cross we can better understand the mystery of His love which redeems humanity. The Child, laid by Mary in the manger, is the Man-God we shall see nailed to the Cross. The same Redeemer is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the stable at Bethlehem He allowed himself to be worshipped under the humble outward appearances of a newborn baby, by Mary, by Joseph and by the shepherds; in the consecrated Host we adore Him sacramentally present in his body, blood, soul and godhead, and He offers himself to us as the food of eternal life. The Mass then becomes a truly loving encounter with the One who gave himself wholly for us. Do not hesitate, my dear young friends, to respond to Him when He invites you "to the wedding feast of the Lamb (cf Rev 19:9). Listen to him, prepare yourselves properly and draw close to the Sacrament of the Altar, particularly in this Year of the Eucharist (October 2004-2005) which I have proclaimed for the whole Church.
""They fell down and worshipped Him" (Mt 2:11). While the Magi acknowledged and worshipped the baby that Mary cradled in her arms as the One awaited by the nations and foretold by prophets, today we can also worship Him in the Eucharist, and acknowledge Him as our Creator, our only Lord and Saviour.
""Opening their treasures they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Mt 2:11). The gifts that the Magi offered the Messiah symbolised true worship. With gold, they emphasised His Royal Godhead; with incense, they acknowledged Him as the priest of the New Covenant; by offering Him myrrh, they celebrated the prophet who would shed His own blood to reconcile humanity with the Father.
"My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha."