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Pope Francis Urges Joy and Sobriety this Christmas

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In his final general audience before Christmas, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of approaching the advent of Christ with "joy" and "amazement," drawing inspiration from the 800th anniversary of the first living Nativity scene established by St. Francis of Assisi in Greccio, Italy.

Photo credit: Walter Chavez

Photo credit: Walter Chavez

Highlights

By Catholic Online (California Network)
12/21/2023 (7 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, Nativity, Christmas, Joy, Amazement, St. Francis of Assisi, Sobriety, Consumerism, Closeness, Tenderness, Compassion

Pope Francis highlighted St. Francis's intention not to create a mere work of art but to elicit astonishment at the profound humility of the Lord in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem. Stressing that Christmas goes beyond a historical event, the pope urged a religious attitude of amazement, stating, "If I, in the face of the mysteries, do not come to this amazement, my faith is simply superficial."

Reflecting on the Nativity scene's spirit of "sobriety," Pope Francis condemned the pervasive consumerism overshadowing the true meaning of Christmas. He cautioned against the frenzy of shopping, emphasizing the risk of losing sight of life's essential values.

"The Nativity scene was created to bring us back to what matters: to God who comes to dwell among us," the pope asserted, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing people over material possessions.

Amidst the anticipation of Christmas, Pope Francis contemplated the Nativity's dual impact of amazement and joy. He questioned the source of Christmas joy, asserting that it stems not from material abundance or extravagant celebrations but from experiencing the nearness of Jesus and the tenderness of God.

"Closeness, tenderness, and compassion â€" such are the three attitudes of God," Pope Francis declared, underlining the profound emotional connection with the divine as the true source of Christmas joy.

In a poignant moment, the pope addressed the tragic consequences of war, emphasizing its inherent defeat and the profit reaped by weapons manufacturers. He called for reflection on the Nativity scene and urged prayers for peace, invoking Jesus, the prince of peace.

The general audience concluded with Pope Francis expressing solidarity with the victims of a devastating earthquake in China, extending affection and prayer to the suffering populations and invoking the Almighty's blessing for comfort and relief.

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