The Pope has called for nothing other than pure joy as we prepare for Christmas, and given a three-step recipe for making sure we can live the birth of the Christ Child with joy.
This was his message Sunday afternoon when he visited the parish of Saint Joseph all’Aurelio, in the western sector of the Diocese of Rome.
On his arrival, the Pope met with little children, the sick and families with children baptized in the course of the year. The Holy Father then heard the confessions of some penitents. Finally, he presided over Mass.
In his homily, he reflected that the joy of Christmas is a special joy. However, he noted, it is not a joy that is only for Christmas day, but rather for the whole life of a Christian.
This “serene, tranquil joy” that always accompanies a Christian, he said, in difficult moments becomes instead peace.
The Holy Father recalled the Apostle St. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: ‘“Brothers, always be happy”
“How can I be happy?” he reflected.
The answer, he said, quoting the saint: “‘Pray, uninterruptedly, and give thanks in everything,'” for we find Christian joy in prayer and giving thanks to God.
Thinking back, Francis said, “I knew a Sister – far from here! – this Sister was good, she worked … but her life was a lamentation, a lamentation of the many things that happened …. In the convent she was called “Sister Complaint.” We understand … [but] this isn’t Christian!”
More than that, he added, “One feels badly to meet Christians with a sad face, with that restless face of sadness, which isn’t peace. A man or woman saint never had a mournful face, never!”
Francis said the saints always had joyful faces or, at least in suffering, peaceful faces, including Jesus who endured the greatest suffering.
To have this Christian joy we must first pray, then give thanks, the Pope exclaimed.
“Remember your life,” he said, “and think of the many good things that life has given you.”
He acknowledged that life has its bad things too, but “think of the good things,” he said.
The Pontiff went on to explain three ways to have joy. The first, he said, is to pray, noting: “To have this joy in preparation for Christmas, first, pray: ‘Lord, may I live this Christmas with true joy.’ Not with the joy of consumerism which brings us to Dec. 24 full of anguish because ‘ah, I’m lacking this, I’m lacking that …’ No, this isn’t God’s joy. Pray.”
Second, he said, is render thanks to the Lord for the good things he has given us.
Third, he continued, is to think “how I can go to others, to those who have difficulties, problems” and “where I can go to bring some relief, peace to those who suffer.”
The Holy Father concluded by asking Mary to accompany the parishoners and calling them to joy.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Text of Additional Remarks: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/text-of-pope-s-words-to-children-sick-baptized-children-nomads-at-roman-parish-of-st-joseph-all