Pope: God "appeared", may the birth of the Christ Child bring peace and reconciliation to the world
In the Christmas Vigil Mass Benedict XVI says that the birth of Jesus is God's answer to "come to the rescue" of men. "In our time, in our world, the rod of the oppressor, the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood would be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - We open our hearts to the Christ Child who "appeared", who comes to save us. The birth of the man who "brought a universal message of reconciliation and peace to the world," giving comfort to those suffering from hunger or the consequences of natural disasters, such as in Southeast Asia, to encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, put an end to the violence in Syria, reconciliation to Iraq and dialogue in Myanmar, to ensure political stability in countries of the African Great Lakes and assist the efforts of the inhabitants of the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and South Sudan to protect the rights of all citizens ..
This was the prayer of Benedict XVI for Christmas, the day when "God has appeared" among us, to save us. "Come and save us!", this "the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers" resonated today in the Pope's Christmas message, delivered from the loggia of the blessings in front of 50 thousand people in St Peter's Square - and broadcast on television in 61 countries - and it also resounded last night, inside the church, during Christmas Eve Mass.
“God has appeared – as a child” he said last night. “It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace. At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours”.
In today’s message he said man asks God to come and save him, Men and women “need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love”.
“Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!!’.
“The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance. Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation”.
Therefore, “on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice. Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.”.
“May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods. May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good”.
“May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.”.
A prayer followed by the traditional Christmas greetings delivered by Benedict XVI in 65 languages, including Russian, Mongolian, Kazakh, Georgian, Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Armenian, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam , Bengali, Burmese, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Sinhalese, Thai, Indonesian, Cambodian, Filipino.