Address on Authentic Meaning of Christmas

John Paul II Suggests Ways to Avoid Consumerism

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2002 ( Here is John Paul II’s address on the authentic meaning of Christmas, which he delivered today before the midday recitation of the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The most thought-provoking appeal of the birth of the Lord, now imminent, comes from the Nativity scene, which is already displayed in many homes.

The simplicity of the Crib is very much in contrast, however, with that concept of Christmas so often expressed in advertisements. Even the beautiful tradition of exchanging gifts among relatives and friends for Christmas has been affected by a certain consumer mentality, which risks losing the true meaning of Christmas. Indeed, this custom is understood given the fact that the person of Jesus is the Gift of God to humanity, of which our gifts in this celebration are a reflection and expression. For this reason, it is all the more opportune to favor those gestures that manifest solidarity and acceptance of the poor and the needy.

2. As we look at the Crib, our gaze turns especially to the Virgin and Joseph, who await the birth of Jesus. The Gospel of this Fourth Sunday of Advent, with its account of the annunciation, shows us Mary listening to the Word of God and ready to fulfill it faithfully.

In her, and in her most chaste spouse, we thus see realized the indispensable conditions to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ birth. First of all, inner silence and prayer, which allow one to contemplate the mystery that is commemorated. In the second place, the willingness to accept the will of God, regardless of how it is manifested.

3. Mary’s and Joseph’s «yes» is full and involves their whole persons: spirit, soul and body.

May it be so for each one of us! May Jesus, who in a few days will come to make our Cribs radiant with joy, be able to find a generous welcome in every Christian family, as happened in Bethlehem on that holy night.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

I affectionately greet the pilgrims present today. I thank all those who have sent me season’s greetings and in turn I cordially wish everyone peace and serenity. Happy Christmas!

[Translation by ZENIT]

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