VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2008 ( Reflecting on the mystery of the birth of the Christ Child, Benedict XVI called for taking greater care of all children, especially those who suffer and are most in need.

The Pope said this during the homily he gave at Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in which he first offered a meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation.

"God dwells on high," he began, "yet he stoops down to us! God is infinitely great, and far, far above us. The One who has no equal, who 'is seated on high,' looks down upon us. He stoops down. He sees us, and he sees me."

"God's looking down," the Pontiff explained, "is much more than simply seeing from above. God's looking is active. The fact that he sees me -- that he looks at me -- transforms me and the world around me.

"In looking down, he raises me up, he takes me gently by the hand and helps me to rise from depths toward the heights."

The Holy Father further reflected that "God's stooping down became real in a way previously inconceivable" when Christ was born.

"He stoops down," the Pontiff explained. "He himself comes down as a child to the lowly stable, the symbol of all humanity's neediness and forsakenness.

"God truly comes down. He becomes a child and puts himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child."

Poor and helpless

"The Creator who holds all things in his hands, on whom we all depend, makes himself small and in need of human love," he added.

Benedict XVI said that not only did God become a child, but that he came as a poor child -- a "homeless child."

"With these thoughts," he continued, "we draw near this night to the child of Bethlehem -- to the God who for our sake chose to become a child. In every child we see something of the Child of Bethlehem. Every child asks for our love.

"This night, then, let us think especially of those children who are denied the love of their parents. Let us think of those street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace.

"Let us think of those children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatized in the depths of their soul."

"The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children, to do everything possible to make the light of Bethlehem touch the heart of every man and woman," the Pontiff said. "Only through the conversion of hearts, only through a change in the depths of our hearts can the cause of all this evil be overcome, only thus can the power of the evil one be defeated.

"Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly entered into our night."