Stripped of the “accumulations of consumerism”, the memorial of Christ’s birth is “an opportunity to welcome the message of hope.”
The “rediscovery” of the true meaning of Christ’s birth, as “an opportunity to welcome as a personal gift the message of hope that irradiates from Christ’s birth” was the appeal that Benedict XVI launched today to five thousand people present at the general audience, during which Christmas hymns resounded throughout the Paul VI hall, courtesy of a group of “zampognari”, pipe players from Northern Italy.
For the Church the beginning of the Christmas novena is moment in which it “prepares to unite itself to the joyous chorus of the angels” that “on that night invited the shepherds to make their way to the stable”. And Christmas, revealed the Pope “is a universal feast and even non believers perceive something extraordinary, something transcendent in this season, which speaks to the heart.
Christmas is a feast that speaks of the gift of life. The birth of a child is always something that brings great joy, and the embrace of a newborn moves one to tenderness”. “How can we not think of those many children born into poverty throughout the world – he added -to those newborns who are rejected and not welcomed, those who will not survive because of lack of care and attention, those families who yearn for the joy of a child and have yet to see this realised”.
On the memorial of Our Lord’s birth, continued Benedict XVI, “Christians so not celebrate the birth of a great man or the end of a season", but “the pivotal moment in history: the incarnation of the Divine Word for the salvation of humanity”. “The mystery of our salvation is renewed”. St Paul comes back again and again to this truth in his letter to the Galatians, “God sent his son born of a woman”. Or in his letter to the Romans, “if we are children of God we are also heirs of God….,” but it is above all “St John who meditates on the mystery of the incarnation” and for this in the Christmas liturgy since the earliest of times his “Et Verbum caro factum est…”, the Word was made Flesh, is used.
It is “something so concrete and essential for the faith” a “historic event that Light becomes an essential and concrete part of faith” a “historical event that Light puts into a real context”, the first census. On that “historic night” in Bethlehem, “a really great light was born”: “the creator of the universe became flesh, thus irrevocably uniting himself to humanity”. “But is it possible? A God who becomes a child? We need to bow our heads and recognise the limits of our intelligence. God became a child to defeat our superbia”.
He could have demonstrated his power, “but he does not want our surrender”, “he wants to set us truly free, to love Him”. “God came to communicate the truth that saves directly to us” and “make us participants in his life”.
Therefore “May Christmas be a privileged opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of our existence”, and to renew it. “Let us ready ourselves – he concluded – to receive this gift of joy, of light and of peace”, “to become people who do not think only of themselves, but who are open to the needs and expectations of others”. “Happy Christmas
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