Pope: Imitating Baby Jesus Isn't Enough

Proposes Christmas as a Call to a Total Transformation

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Christ Child incarnates a host of virtues, but Christmas is a call to more than imitating the goodness of Baby Jesus, says Benedict XVI. Instead, it is an invitation to a total transformation wrought by participation in divine nature.

The Pope made this reflection Wednesday during the first general audience of the new year, held in Paul VI Hall. He dedicated his address to a consideration of Christmas, saying it «is not only a remembrance but is above all a mystery; it is not only a memory but also a presence.»

The Holy Father’s meditation emphasized the «today» of the feast, explaining that «in the liturgical celebrations of these holy days we lived in a mysterious but real way the entrance of the Son of God into the world and we were illumined once again by the light of his brilliance. Each celebration is an actual presence of the mystery of Christ and in it is prolonged the history of salvation.»

«Today, as then,» he said, «God reveals himself in the flesh, namely, in the ‘living body’ of the Church journeying in time, and, in the sacraments, he gives us salvation today.»

Rescuing Christmas

The Bishop of Rome declared that Christmas must be rescued from an «overly moralistic and sentimental mask.»

«The celebration of Christmas does not propose to us only examples to imitate, such as the humility and poverty of the Lord, and his benevolence and love for men,» he said. «But it is rather an invitation to allow oneself to be totally transformed by him who entered into our flesh.»

The Pope cited St. Leo the Great to clarify his point: «The Son of God … joined himself to us and joined us to himself in such a way that the abasement of God to the human condition became a raising of man to the heights of God.»

Hence, the Holy Father explained, «God’s manifestation has its purpose in our participation in divine life, in the realization in us of the mystery of his Incarnation. This mystery is the fulfillment of man’s vocation.»

Citing St. Leo another time, he noted: «Again St. Leo the Great explains the Christmas mystery’s concrete and always present importance for Christian life: ‘The words of the Gospel and of the Prophets … inflame our spirit and teach us to understand the Lord’s nativity, this mystery of the Word made flesh, not so much as a memory of a past event, but as an event that unfolds before our eyes … it is as if it was proclaimed again in today’s solemnity: «I give you the announcement of a great joy, which will be for all the people: today, in the city of David, a Savior is born for you who is Christ the Lord.»‘

«And he adds: ‘Recognize, O Christian, your dignity, and, made participant of the divine nature, be careful not to fall again, with unworthy conduct, from such greatness into primitive baseness.'»

The Pope concluded with an invitation to live Christmastide «with intensity.»

«After having adored the Son of God made man and placed in the manger,» he said, «we are called to pass to the altar of the Sacrifice, where Christ, the living Bread come down from heaven, offers himself to us as true nourishment for eternal life. And what we have seen with our eyes, at the table of the Word and of the Bread of Life, what we contemplated, what our hands have touched, that is the Word made flesh, let us proclaim him with joy to the world and witness to him generously with all our life.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31386?l=english

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