12/25/2007, 00.00
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Pope: heaven and earth meet in a stable in Bethlehem

Celebrating the Christmas midnight mass Benedict XVI that the coming of Christ “was not welcomed” by his city, or by Israel. But his message is to each and every one of us: welcome it’s meaning by “making space for Him”, by making space for God in our lives.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - “In the stable at Bethlehem, Heaven and Earth meet.  Heaven has come down to Earth”, nature itself goes forth towards a second creation, now it is up to men to set forth towards that “stable”, to “touch the heart of God” and “make room for Him” in their lives.  This represents for us now, and for always, the night of the incarnation, as it was evoked by Benedict XVI in the long midnight mass celebrated in a St Peter’s Basilica resplendently lit, its altar adorned with red flowers.

That night in Bethlem, where, the Pope said, “was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined:  when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things”. “Yet there is no room at the inn.  In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near.  But when the moment comes, there is no room for him.  Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others – for his neighbour, for the poor, for God.  And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves.  And the less room there is for others”.

Bethlehem, Israel, indeed all humanity had no room for Jesus, “to each individual and to society as a whole.  Do we have time for our neighbour who is in need of a word from us, from me, or in need of my affection?  For the sufferer who is in need of help?  For the fugitive or the refugee who is seeking asylum?  Do we have time and space for God?  Can he enter into our lives?  Does he find room in us, or have we occupied all the available space in our thoughts, our actions, our lives for ourselves”.


“Thank God, this negative detail is not the only one”: “There are those who receive him, and thus, beginning with the stable, with the outside, there grows silently the new house, the new city, the new world.  The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily.  Yet it also tells us that God does not allow himself to be shut out.  He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see his light and pass it on. Through the word of the Gospel, the angel also speaks to us, and in the sacred liturgy the light of the Redeemer enters our lives.  Whether we are shepherds or “wise men” – the light and its message call us to set out, to leave the narrow circle of our desires and interests, to go out to meet the Lord and worship him.  We worship him by opening the world to truth, to good, to Christ, to the service of those who are marginalized and in whom he awaits us.”.


Benedict XVI then turned to a Father  of the Church Gregory of Nyssa, who applies the words of John  poi preso spunto da un Padre della Chiesa, Gregorio di Nissa, che applica le parole di Giovanni “He pitched his tent among us” (Jn 1:14).  Gregory applies this passage about the tent to the tent of our body, which has become worn out and weak, exposed everywhere to pain and suffering.  And he applies it to the whole universe, torn and disfigured by sin.  What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?  “.


“Thus, according to Gregory’s vision, the stable in the Christmas message represents the ill-treated world”. Jesus “He came to restore beauty and dignity to creation, to the universe:  this is what began at Christmas and makes the angels rejoice.  The Earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity.  Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation.  It is in this context that the Fathers interpret the song of the angels on that holy night:  it is an expression of joy over the fact that the height and the depth, Heaven and Earth, are once more united; that man is again united to God.  According to the Fathers, part of the angels’ Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise”.


“In the stable at Bethlehem, Heaven and Earth meet.  Heaven has come down to Earth.  For this reason, a light shines from the stable for all times; for this reason joy is enkindled there; for this reason song is born there. ”. But “Heaven does not belong to the geography of space, but to the geography of the heart.  And the heart of God, during the Holy Night, stooped down to the stable:  the humility of God is Heaven.  And if we approach this humility, then we touch Heaven.  Then the Earth too is made new.  With the humility of the shepherds, let us set out, during this Holy Night, towards the Child in the stable!  Let us touch God’s humility, God’s heart!  Then his joy will touch us and will make the world more radiant”.


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