VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2010 ( God is always faithful to his promises, but the way he fulfills them can often be surprising, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made that affirmation in a reflection that aired this morning in London on "Thought for the Day," on BBC's public channel Radio 4.

The Holy Father joined the list of religious leaders who have participated in the BBC program, which airs a three-minute reflection. It has been broadcast since 1970.

"Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation. They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send, and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom," the Pontiff said. 

He continued, "'God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfills them.'"

"God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfills them," the Pope repeated. "The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place -- he was to be the Savior of all people throughout the world and throughout history. And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: Rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the cross."

The Bishop of Rome spoke of Christ's birth in "poverty and obscurity, far from the centers of earthly power."

And yet, he said, "he was none other than the Son of God."

"Out of love for us he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability, and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life, to a share in the life of God himself," the Pope reflected. "As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us, and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life."

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