himself to us, to our poverty and frailty. Hence, the coming of the Lord can have no objective other than to teach us to see and love events, the world, and everything that surrounds us with the very eyes of God. The Word-become-a-child helps us to understand God's way of acting, so that we will be capable of allowing ourselves to be transformed increasingly by his goodness and his infinite mercy.
In the night of the world, we must let ourselves be amazed and illumined by this act of God, which is totally unexpected: God becomes a Child. We must let ourselves be amazed, illumined by the Star that inundated the universe with joy. May the Child Jesus, in coming to us, not find us unprepared, busy only in making the exterior reality more beautiful and attractive. May the care we give to making our streets and homes more resplendent impel us even more to predispose our soul to encounter him who will come to visit us. Let us purify our conscience and our life of what is contrary to this coming: thoughts, words, attitudes and deeds -- impelling us to do good and to contribute to bring about in our world peace and justice for every man and thus walk toward our encounter with the Lord.
A characteristic sign of Christmastide is the nativity scene. Also in St. Peter's Square, in keeping with custom, it is almost ready and appears ideally over Rome and over the whole world, representing the beauty of the Mystery of God who became man and dwelt among us (cf. John 1:14). The crib is an expression of our expectation that God will come close to us, that Jesus will come close to us, but also thanksgiving for him who decided to share our human condition, in poverty and simplicity. I am happy because the tradition of preparing the crib in homes, in workplaces, in meeting places, remains alive and is even being rediscovered. May this genuine witness of Christian faith be able to offer also today for all men of good will an eloquent icon of the infinite love of the Father for us all. May the hearts of children and adults still be able to be amazed before him.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph help us to live the Mystery of Christmas with renewed gratitude to the Lord. In the midst of the frenetic activity of our days, may this time give us some calm and joy and enable us to touch with our hand the goodness of our God, who became a Child to save us and to give new encouragement and light on our journey. This is my wish for a holy and happy Christmas: I address it affectionately to all of you here present, to your families, in particular to the sick and the suffering, as well as to your communities and your loved ones.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas, General Audience, Christmas Crib
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