Pope Francis challenges thousands to 'take the risk of service'

In St. Peter's Basilica, thousands gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with a Mass presided over by Pope Francis. The pope said the Magi were not focused solely on earthly matters and that following this example can help man find his vocation.

"This is the key that unlocks the true meaning of our existence: if we live enclosed within the narrow confines of earthly things, if we march headlong hostage to our failures and regrets, if we are hungry for worldly goods and consolations—which are here today and gone tomorrow—instead of seekers of light and love, our lives are extinguished," the pope said.

Pope Francis challenged those present to avoid keeping their faith theoretical but to put it into action by taking “the risk of service.”

"To encounter God in the flesh, in the faces that pass us by every day, especially those of the poorest. Indeed, the Magi teach us that an encounter with God always opens us to a greater hope, which makes us change our way of life and transform the world," he said.

After the Mass, the pope greeted pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus and he recalled the anniversary of an ecumenical meeting in 1964.

"Sixty years ago, in these very days, Pope Saint Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, breaking a wall of incommunicability that for centuries had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart," he said. "We learn from the embrace of those two greats of the Church on the road to Christian unity, praying together, walking together, working together."

Epiphany also marks Missionary day for Children or Holy Childhood day. Pope Francis offered his thanks and prayers for children in mission territories.