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A Christmas Surprise

"Tonight He Will Come"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The celebration of the holy birth is here.

Today's vigil prepares us to live intensely the mystery that tonight's liturgy will invite us to contemplate with the eyes of faith.

In the divine infant, who we will place in the manger, our salvation is made manifest. In the God made man for us, we all feel loved, taken in, we discover that we are worthy and unique before the eyes of the Creator.

The birth of Christ helps us to be conscientious of what human life is worth, the life of each human being, from the first instant until natural death.

To whomever opens their heart to this "baby wrapped in swaddling clothes," who lies "in a manger" (cf. Luke 12:12), is offered the possibility of seeing with new eyes the reality of everyday. He will delight in the ability of the interior seduction of the love of God that can transform even pain into joy.

Dear friends, let us prepare to encounter Jesus, the Emanuel, God with us. By his birth in the poverty of Bethlehem, he wants to accompany each one of us on our life journey. In this world, from the moment that he decided to make it his home, no one is a stranger.

It is true, we are all here in passing, but it is Jesus who makes us feel as if we are at home on this Earth, made holy by his presence. He asks us, nonetheless, to make is a hospitable home for all. This is precisely the surprise give of Christmas: Jesus came for each one of us and in him we have become brothers.

From here comes the commitment to overcome each day more our prejudices, to take down the walls, and to eliminate those differences that divide us, or even worse, that set people and nations against one another, so as to build together a world of justice and peace.

With these sentiments, dear brothers and sisters, we will live these last hours that separate us from Christmas, preparing ourselves spiritually to receive the Child Jesus. Tonight he will come for us. And he will also enter us, to live in the heart of each one of us.

For this to take place it is indispensable that we be available and ready to receive him, and be willing to give him room in our hearts, in our families and in our cities. May his birth not find us unprepared to celebrate Christmas, forgetting that he is precisely the protagonist of the celebration.

May Mary help us to maintain the indispensable interior recollection necessary to experience the profound joy that the birth of our Redeemer offers. To her let us direct our prayer, thinking in particular of those that live Christmas sad and alone, sick and suffering: May the Virgin bring consolation to all of them.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus.

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent and also, this year, Christmas Eve. The Liturgy of today's celebration invites all believers to welcome joyfully the promised Messiah who comes to us through the Virgin Mary.

I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Christmas filled with the peace of Christ our Lord and
Savior!

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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