12/19/2018, 11.46
VATICAN
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Pope: 'Celebrating Christmas' open to God’s surprises, far from consumerism

"Stand in silence in front of the crib: this is the invitation for Christmas: go in front of the crib and stand in silence and you'll see the surprises. Unfortunately, however, we get the celebration wrong, and prefer the usual worldly things to the newness of Heaven ". It is not a party, where we are at the center and not Him. "Please do not make Christmas materialistic! Do not leave Christ out!".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "'Celebrating Christmas', not abandoning ourselves to the chaos of consumerism, rather open to God’s surprises as it was that first Christmas for Mary and for Joseph who saw all their projects changed and when "it is not the authorities of the time, or the ambassadors who welcome the Savior, but of the simple shepherds". "Christmas: the surprises that God likes" was the theme of reflection proposed by Pope Francis for today's general audience.

To the eight thousand people present in the Audience Hall, Francis  said: "in six days it will be Christmas. Trees, decorations and lights everywhere remember that this is a celebration. The advertising machine invites us to exchange always new gifts in order to be surprised. But is this the party that pleases God? Which Christmas would He like, what gifts and surprises? Let's look at the first Christmas of history to discover the tastes of God. That Christmas was full of surprises. We start with Mary, who was the bride of Joseph: the angel arrives and changes her life. From a virgin she will be a mother. It continues with Joseph, called to be the father of a child without having generated it. A son who - a twist - arrives at the least indicated moment, that is when Mary and Joseph were promised spouses and according to the Law they could not cohabit. Faced with the scandal, the good sense of the time invited Joseph to reject Mary and save his good name, but he, who had the right, is surprising: He does not want to harm Mary and thinks to dismiss her in secret, at the cost of losing his reputation . Then another surprise: God in a dream changes josephs plans and asks him to take Mary with him. Jesus is born and [Joseph] had his plans for the family, when again in a dream he was told to get up and go to Egypt. In short, Christmas brings unexpected changes of life. And if we want to live Christmas we must open our hearts and be ready for change ".

"But it is on Christmas Eve when the biggest surprise arrives: the Almighty becomes a small child. The divine Word is an infant, which literally means 'unable to speak'. it is not the authorities of the time, or the ambassadors who welcome the Savior, but of the simple shepherds who, surprised by the angels while working at night, rush without delay. Who would have expected it? Christmas is celebrating the unannounced God, or rather, an unannounced God, who overturns our logic and our expectations. To celebrate Christmas, then, is to welcome the surprises of Heaven on earth. One cannot live in ‘worldly way’, when Heaven has brought its newness into the world. Christmas inaugurates a new era, where life is not planned, but gives itself; where one no longer lives for himself, according to his own tastes, but for God; and with God, because from Christmas onwards God is the God-with-us, who lives with us, who walks with us. To live Christmas is to be shaken by its surprising novelty. The Christmas of Jesus does not offer reassuring warmth of the fireplace, but the divine shiver that shakes the story. Christmas is the revenge of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over chaos, of prayer over "my time", of God over my "I".

"To celebrate Christmas, means being like Jesus, who comes to us in our need, means lowering ourselves to those who are in need. It is being like Mary: trusting, docile to God, even without understanding what He will do. It is being like Joseph: hastening to achieve what God asks of us, even if it is not according to our plans. St. Joseph is surprising: in the Gospel he never speaks, there is not a word of Joseph in the Gospel, and the Lord speaks to him precisely in silence, in sleep. Christmas is to prefer the silent voice of God to the noise of consumerism. If we can be silent in front of the crib, Christmas will be a surprise for us, not something already seen ".

"Stand in silence in front of the crib: this is the invitation for Christmas: go in front of the crib and stay in silence and you'll see the surprises. Unfortunately, however, we get the celebration wrong, and prefer the usual worldly things to the newness of Heaven ". It is not a party, where we are at the center and not Him. "Please do not make Christmas materialistic! Do not leave Christ out, as it was then, when "he came among his own, and his own did not welcome him" (Jn 1,11). Since the first Gospel of Advent, the Lord has warned us, asking not to weigh ourselves down in "dissipations" and "troubles of life" (Lk 21,34). In these days we are racing around, perhaps as never during the year. But this is the opposite of what Jesus wants. We blame the many things that fill the days, the world that spins so fast. Yet Jesus did not blame the world, he asked us not to be dragged down, to hold vigil at every moment, praying (see verse 36) ".

"Behold, it will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we give space to silence; if, like Mary, we say 'here I am' to God; if, like Jesus, we are close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we leave our enclosures to be with Jesus. It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor cave of Bethlehem. It will not be Christmas if we look for the glittering gleams of the world, if we fill ourselves with presents, lunches and dinners, but do not help at least a poor man, who looks like God, because at Christmas God came to the poor. Dear brothers and sisters - the Pope concluded - I wish you a Merry Christmas, full of surprises, but some surprises of Jesus! They may seem uncomfortable surprises, but they are God's tastes. If we marry them, we will make ourselves a wonderful surprise. Each of us has the ability to surprise in our heart, let us be surprised by Jesus ".

Finally, saying goodbye to the Italian faithful, Francis said: "The birth of the Lord Jesus is imminent. May the feast we celebrate this year, on the Holy Eve of Christmas, awaken in us the tenderness of God for all of humanity, when, in Jesus, he did not disdain to assume, without reserve, our human nature. Let us entrust ourselves to Mary and Joseph, so that they may teach us to welcome such a great gift: Emmanuel, God with us".

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