Skip to content

Wednesday's Audience - Pre-Christmas Reflection

"Many Think That God Is a Stranger"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at Wednesday's general audience, held in Paul VI Hall. The Pope delivered a reflection on the meaning of Christmas.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

"The Lord is at hand: come let us adore him!" With this invocation, the liturgy invites us in these last days of Advent, to draw close as though on tiptoes to the cave of Bethlehem, where the extraordinary event took place that changed the course of history: the birth of the Redeemer.

On Christmas Eve, we will place ourselves once again before the Crib to contemplate, astonished, the "Word made flesh." Sentiments of joy and gratitude, like in every year, are renewed in our hearts as we hear the melodies of Christmas carols, which sing of, in so many languages, the same, extraordinary miracle. The Creator of the universe, out of love, came to make his dwelling among men. In the Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul affirms that Christ, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (2:6). He appeared in human form, adds the Apostle, humbling himself. At holy Christmas we will relive the realization of this sublime mystery of grace and mercy.

St. Paul adds: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). The Chosen People had waited for centuries for the Messiah, but they imagined him as a powerful and victorious leader, who would free his own from the oppression of foreigners.

The Savior, however, was born in silence and total poverty. He came as a light that enlightens all men -- says John the Evangelist -- "and his own people received him not" (John 1:9,11). However, the Apostle adds: "But to all who received him ... he gave power to become children of God" (ibid., 1:12). The promised light enlightened the hearts of those who persevered in vigilant and active expectation.

The liturgy of Advent exhorts us also to be sober and vigilant, so as not to be overcome by the weight of sin and excessive worldly concerns. In fact, being vigilant and praying we will be able to recognize and receive the splendor of Christ's Christmas. In one of his homilies St. Maximus of Turin, a bishop who lived between the fourth and fifth centuries, affirmed: "Time alerts us that Christ's Christmas is near. The world, with its own anxieties, speaks of the imminence of something that will renew it and hopes with patient waiting that the brilliance of a more brilliant sun will lighten its darkness.... This expectation of creation also leads us to await the rising of Christ, new Sun" (Sermon 61a, 1-3). Creation itself, therefore, leads us to discover and recognize the One who must come.

But the question is: Does humanity of our time still await a Savior? The impression is that many think that God is foreign to their own interests. It would seem they have no need of him; they live as if he did not exist and, worse still, as if he were an "obstacle" that must be removed so they can be fulfilled. Even among believers, we are certain, some allow themselves to be drawn by seductive chimeras and distracted by deceitful doctrines which propose illusory shortcuts to attain happiness.

However, despite its contradictions, anxieties and dramas, and perhaps because of them, today's humanity seeks a way of renewal, of salvation, a Savior and awaits, sometimes unconsciously, the coming of the Lord who renews the world and our lives; the coming of Christ, the only true Redeemer of man and of all men. It is true, false prophets continue to propose a "cheap" salvation, which always ends by causing harsh deceptions. In fact, the history of the last 50 years shows the search for a "cheap" Savior and manifests all the disillusions that have derived from it.

We Christians have the task to spread, with the testimony of life, the truth of Christmas, which Christ brings to all men and women of good will. On being born in the poverty of the stable, Jesus comes to offer to all the only joy and peace that can satisfy the expectations of the human spirit.

But, how can we prepare ourselves to open our hearts to the Lord who comes? The spiritual attitude of vigilant and prayerful waiting continues to be the Christian's fundamental characteristic during this time of Advent. It is the attitude that characterizes the protagonists of the time: Zechariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, the Wise Men, the simple and humble people, but, above all, Mary's and Joseph's waiting! The latter, more than any other, experienced in the first person the emotion and trepidation for the Child about to be born. It is not difficult to imagine how they spent the last days, waiting to take the newborn in their arms.

May their attitude be ours, dear brothers and sisters. In this connection, let us hear the exhortation of St. Maximus, bishop of Turin, mentioned earlier: "While we prepare to welcome the Lord's Christmas, let us put on clean, stainless garments. I am speaking of the soul's garment, not the body's. We do not have to be clothed in silk garments, but in good works! Luxurious garments can cover parts of the body, but do not adorn the conscience!" (ibid.).

May the Child Jesus, being born among us, not find us distracted or dedicated simply to decorating our homes with lights. Rather, in our spirit and in our families let us decorate a worthy dwelling in which he feels welcomed with faith and love. May the Virgin and St. Joseph help us live the mystery of Christmas with new wonder and pacifying serenity.

With these sentiments, I wish to express to all of you here present and to your families my most heartfelt wishes for a holy and happy Christmas, remembering in particular those who are in difficulty or suffering in body and in spirit. Happy Christmas to you all!

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"The Lord is at hand: come let us adore him!" In these last days of Advent, the liturgy invites us to draw close to the stable of Bethlehem contemplating in awe the birth of the Redeemer. Full of joy and thanksgiving we recall how the Creator of the universe, out of love, came to dwell among us. For many centuries Israel had awaited the Messiah, imagining him as a powerful and victorious leader. Instead, the Savior was born in absolute poverty, and the true light, who enlightens all people, was not accepted by his own (cf. John 1:9-12).

Do we still await the Savior? Today many consider God irrelevant, an obstacle to success. Even believers sometimes seek tempting but illusory short cuts to happiness. And yet, perhaps even because of this confusion, humanity seeks a Savior and awaits the coming of Christ, the one true Redeemer. We, Christians, through our witness against those who offer a "cheap salvation," defend the truth of Christmas which Christ brings to every person of goodwill.

Let us then with Mary and Joseph prepare to open our hearts to the Lord who is at hand. Do not be distracted by the trappings! Be watchful and pray! In this way our homes will welcome Jesus with faith and love.

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today. May these final days of Advent be full of spiritual wonder. To you and your loved ones, especially those who may be in difficulty or suffering, I extend my best wishes for a happy and holy Christmas!

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Benedict, Pope, Wednesday, Christmas, Audience, God

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.