Pope: Christmas is an eternal fire that God has kindled in the world
“It is important that it should not be reduced to a merely sentimental or consumerist festival,” said Pope Francis, “If the pandemic has forced us to be more distant, Jesus, in the crib, shows us the way of tenderness to be close to each other, to be human. Let us follow this path.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis held today’s general audience again in the private library. In his “reflections”, he noted that “Christmas has become a universal feast, and even those who do not believe perceive the appeal of this occasion”, but “It is important that it should not be reduced to a merely sentimental or consumerist festival” because it “is a decisive event, an eternal fire that God has kindled in the world, and must not be confused with ephemeral things.”
The pontiff mentioned again what he said last Sunday, namely that consumerism “has kidnapped Christmas from us”. He did so in order to stress the need “to curb a certain worldly mentality, incapable of grasping the incandescent core of our faith, which is this: ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father’ (Jn 1: 14).
“Christmas invites us to reflect, on the one hand, on the drama of history, in which men and women, wounded by sin, ceaselessly search for truth, mercy and redemption; and, on the other hand, on the goodness of God, who has come towards us to communicate to us the Truth that saves and to make us sharers in His friendship and His life.”
It is a grace. “We receive this gift of grace through the simplicity and humanity of Christmas, and it can remove from our hearts and minds the pessimism that has spread today as a result of the pandemic. We can overcome that sense of disquieting bewilderment, not letting ourselves be overwhelmed by defeats and failures, in the rediscovered awareness that that humble and poor Child, hidden away and helpless, is God Himself, made man for us.
“The Second Vatican Council, in a famous passage from the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, tells us that this event concerns every one of us: “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human heart, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 22).” God is with us.
“This reality gives us much joy and courage. God did not look down on us, did not pass us by, was not repulsed by our misery, did not clothe Himself superficially in a body, but rather He fully assumed our nature and our human condition. He left nothing out except sin: all humanity is in Him. He took all that we are, just as we are. This is essential for understanding the Christian faith.
“St. Augustine, reflecting on his journey of conversion, writes in his Confessions: “For I did not hold to my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled, to the Humble; nor knew I yet whereto His infirmity would guide us” (Confessions VII, 8).
“The ‘infirmity’ of Jesus is a ‘teaching’! Because it reveals to us the love of God. Christmas is the feast of Love incarnate and born for us in Jesus Christ. He is the light of mankind shining in the darkness, giving meaning to human existence and to the whole of history.”
Pope Francis urged the faithful to stand in meditation before the nativity scene, which is “a catechesis” of the birth of Jesus, and reread the “Admirabile signum” Letter written last year and dedicated to the nativity scene.
“At the school of St. Francis of Assisi, we can become a little childlike by pausing to contemplate the scene of the Nativity, and by allowing the rebirth of the wonder of the ‘marvellous’ way in which God wanted to come into the world. This will revive tenderness in us, and today we are in great need of tenderness. If the pandemic has forced us to be more distant, Jesus, in the crib, shows us the way of tenderness to be close to each other, to be human. Let us follow this path.”
In his greetings to German faithful, he said: “We shall please the Child Jesus, if in these days of celebration we do not forget those who are lonely, sick and needy. A phone call is enough to send them a ray of Christmas light. The Lord will reward this.”
Finally, he said to the Italians: “By imitating the shepherds, you too run to the holy Grotto: Jesus is waiting for you to give you his light and peace. He wants to enrich your life with his love and grace.”