Real Gift of Christmas Is Joy, Pontiff Says at Parish

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2005 ( Visiting his first Roman parish as Pope, Benedict XVI said that joy, and not an expensive present, is the authentic gift of Christmas gift.

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“The Pope has returned to announce good news,” he said this morning when greeting the faithful of Santa Maria Consolatrice Parish, in the eastern outskirts of Rome.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he had been the titular cardinal of the parish church from 1977 to 1993.

In an improvised homily, the Holy Father explained that “joy is the true gift of Christmas, and not the expensive gifts that cost time and money.”

“And joy we can express in simple ways,” he said: “with a smile, a gesture, with helping out a little, with an act of forgiveness.”

“God is close to us, so close that he made himself a child,” he said amid the applause of the faithful.

The incarnation “is good news for the world today, where God is absent. A world dominated by fear, uncertainty. A dark world, in which many need anesthesia in order to live.”

As cardinal, the Pope visited this parish often. “For me it’s truly a coming home,” he told the parishioners and staff.

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