Pope Benedict XVI addressed over 7,000 pilgrims in attendance at Paul VI Hall in the Vatican yesterday in his first General Audience of the New Year. Speaking on the theme of the birth of Christ, the Holy Father described the event as “something so radically new that it was capable of changing the course of history”, and Jesus’ origin.”
The Lord’s nativity, the Pope said, “once again illuminates the darkness that often surrounds our world and our hearts with its light, and brings hope and joy. Where does this light come from? From the grotto in Bethlehem where the shepherds found ‘Mary and Joseph and the Child lying in the manger’. Before this Holy Family another, deeper question arises: How can this small and weak Child bring a newness so radical into the world that it is capable of changing the course of history? Isn’t there something mysterious in his origin that goes beyond that cavern?”
The Holy Father went on to speak on the divine origins of Christ according to the Gospels, saying that Jesus’ true origin “is the Father, God” which is very different from any other messenger or prophet who preceded Him.
“This origin of the mystery of God, ‘whom nobody knows’, is already contained in the stories of His childhood in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which we are reading during Christmastime. The angel Gabriel announces: ‘The Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’,” the Holy Father explained.
Recalling the words recited in the Creed, as well as the compositions of sacred music by great masters such as Mozart, Pope Benedict said that we are reminded of Christ’s divine nature who by the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary.
“At this phrase we kneel because the veil that hid God is, so to say, opened and His unfathomable and inaccessible mystery touches us. God becomes Emmanuel, ‘God with us’,” the Pope said.
“This affirmation of the Creed does not concern God’s eternal being but rather speaks to us of an action that the three divine Persons take part in and that is realized ‘ex Maria Virgine’. Without her, God’s entrance into human history would not have been achieved and that which is central to our Profession of Faith would not have taken place: God is God with us. Mary thus undeniably pertains to our faith in the God who acts, who enters into history. She puts her entire being at His disposition, she ‘accepts’ becoming the place of God’s indwelling.”
The 85 year old Pontiff also spoke on the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary during the Annunciation: “the power of the Most High will come upon you.” Pope Benedict went on to explain that those words echo the holy cloud that covered the tent of the Meeting over the Ark of the Covenant, which indicated the presence of God. “With her ‘yes’ to the archangel’s words, God receive a dwelling place in this world. What the universe cannot contain dwells in the womb of a virgin,” Pope Benedict said.
This is an announcement, the Holy Father concluded, “that resounds ever new and which carries with it hope and joy to our hearts because each time it gives us the certainty that, even if we often feel weak, poor, incapable of facing the difficulties and the evil of the world, the power of God is always acting and works wonders precisely in our weakness. His grace is our strength.”