During Midnight Mass, Francis said that it is time to turn “the power of fear into the power of charity,” one that that leads to “a new imagination of charity”. In the footsteps of Joseph and Mary, "We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but [are] driven from their land", who leave out of hope or just to survive the Herods who spill innocent blood "to impose their power".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Midnight Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. During the service, he said that “Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity,” to experience new forms of relationships "in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth”.
This can be seen in the fact that Mary and Joseph become strangers, forced to leave their land, that for them "there was no place" and that the first to receive the Angel's announcement were "pagans" and "sinners".
On that holy night, "Mary gave birth; she gave us Jesus, the Light of the world", and everything "became a source of hope". But first, Mary and Joseph were forced to leave, to leave their land to be counted. If "At heart, they were full of hope” for the coming child, their steps “were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their home behind.”
When they arrived in Bethlehem from Nazareth, they experienced "a land that was not expecting them [. . .] A land where there was no place for them.” And there, amid the darkness of a city "that had no room or place for the stranger from afar," that turned its back on others, "the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled." The latter created "a small opening for those who have lost their land, their country, their dreams". Here, “a small chink open[ed] up for those who [. . .] lost their land, their country, their dreams.”
In the footsteps of Joseph and Mary, "We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, [are] driven from their land". They leave out of hope or just to survive the Herods who spill innocent blood "to impose their power".
Yet Mary and Joseph, the rejected ones, are the first to embrace Jesus, "the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship", who shows that true power is the one that helps “the weak and the frail."
The One who "had no place to be born" was proclaimed to those who "had no place at the table or in the streets of the city", the shepherds, the first to hear the Good News.
Deemed unclean because for their work, they could not observe all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification. These men and women were considered "pagans among believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens".
The Angel announced to them the birth of the Saviour. He announced, Francis stressed, the joy with which God "in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.”
This night "makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent", in the " unwelcomed visitor" who walks through our cities, knocking on our doors. “Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity”, to experience with new forms of relationships "in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth".
We need the courage not to get used to injustice but to become a "land of hospitality". Citing John Paul II who said "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ”, Francis noted that “In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned”.
God “invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.”
Lastly, addressing himself directly to the Child of Bethlehem, revered in the image placed at the foot of the confessional altar at the beginning of the celebration, the pope said "we ask that your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. [. . .] May your revolutionary tenderness persuade us to feel our call to be agents of the hope and tenderness of our people.”
At the end of the Mass, following tradition, Francis carried the image of the Holy Child in procession to the crib in Saint Peter’s Basilica.