Pope Emphasizes the Hope That the Christ Child Brings

Presides Over Christmas Midnight Mass

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- At Christmas Midnight Mass, John Paul II emphasized the message of hope that God-made-Man brings to a troubled world.

«But does this certainty of faith not seem to clash with the way things are today?» the Holy Father said in his homily in St. Peter´s Basilica. «If we listen to the relentless news headlines, these words of light and hope may seem like words from a dream. But that is precisely the challenge of faith, which makes this proclamation at once comforting and demanding.»

Some 8,000 faithful attended the Mass, after passing strict security checks by Italian police.

Faith «make us feel that we are wrapped in the tender love of God, while at the same time it commits us to a practical love of God and of our neighbor,» the Pope said in a firm voice.

At one point in the Mass, he gave a blessing to a dozen children dressed in traditional costumes from around the world, as they presented chalices. A smiling Pope kissed them and caressed their cheeks.

During the homily he said: «Our hearts this Christmas are anxious and distressed because of the continuation in various parts of the world of war, social tensions, and the painful hardships in which so many people find themselves. We are all seeking an answer that will reassure us.»

The child Jesus, announced by the Prophet Isaiah as the «Prince of Peace,» «brings with him the answer which can calm our fears and reinvigorate our hope,» John Paul II said.

«Like the shepherds, we too on this wonderful night cannot fail to experience the desire to share with others the joy of our encounter with this child wrapped in swaddling cloths, in whom the saving power of the Almighty is revealed,» he continued.

«We cannot pause in ecstatic contemplation of the Messiah lying in the manger, and forget our obligation to bear witness to him,» he affirmed.

«With joy we must leave the cave of Bethlehem in order to recount everywhere the marvel which we have witnessed. We have encountered light and life! In him, love has been bestowed upon us,» he added.

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