Angelus Message

December 24, 2000

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My dearest brothers and sisters!

1. Today´s fourth Sunday of Advent, which this year falls precisely on the Vigil of Christmas, calls us to an intense spirit of recollection and prayer, in order to prepare ourselves well for the already imminent coming of the Lord.

We live in the trembling and joyous expectation of the birth of the Redeemer. On the streets and in our homes, everything speaks of Christmas. Lights, decorations, and gifts create an unmistakable Christmas spirit. The external preparations, while necessary, however, must not distract our attention from the central and extraordinary event that is being remembered: the birth of Jesus, the priceless gift of the Father to humanity.

2. The liturgy, and especially the Gospel account, help us to live this Christmas Vigil better. Let us pause to contemplate the cave of Bethlehem. Not even the indispensible minimum that every family has for the birth of a child is set aside for the King of the universe, and Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room in the inn, had to take refuge in a poor stable. A manger will be the first crib of the Newborn (cf. Lk 2:7). So it was in trappings of extreme poverty that God became one of us. Thus was born the Only-begotten Son of the Father, the Desire of Nations, the Holy Door of salvation, that brings us to the fullness of eternal life.

In the cave beside Jesus is Mary, the Virgin Mother, who received the word of God with complete obedience. Joseph, her chaste spouse, is also there, obedient to the arcane designs of the Omnipotent, even when the events seems incomprehensible and difficult to accept.

3. This scene, in its simplicity, consitutes a silent invitation to undertand the mystery of Christmas in its true value: a mystery of humility and love, joy and attention to the poor.

While we put the finishing touches on the manger scenes in our houses, and we prepare ourselves to pass Christmas in serene familiar harmony, let there not be a lack of gestures of solidarity toward those who will live these days in solitude and suffering. How much greater will the joy of this feast be if we share it not only with our family and friends, but also with all those who long for a concrete remembrance from us.

Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin to help us to celebrate the birth of her divine Son in this way, by reciting together the Angelus prayer.
(ZENIT Translation)

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