‘Let us invite Him into our hearts, so that each new day can bring spiritual rebirth & preserve in us the joy of Christmas…’
Today, Pope Francis gave this invitation to faithful gathered at the General Audience, the day after his 83rd birthday yesterday, December 17th. This marks the last such audience before the holiday.
Francis called on them to reflect on the nativity scene to help keep in mind and contemplate what’s really important in life.
“In these last days of Advent, we do well to ask ourselves: How am I preparing for the birth of Jesus?” he asked, before reflecting further on this theme.
Moreover, he thanked all those gathered for the numerous birthday wishes that he received yesterday.
Below is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s summary.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In these last days of Advent, we do well to ask ourselves: How am I preparing for the birth of Jesus? One way to prepare for Christmas is to set up a nativity scene in our homes, churches and public spaces, a lovely tradition that began with Saint Francis of Assisi. The Christmas crèche is a kind of living Gospel, a touching reminder that the Lord showed his love for us by being born as one of us, in order to share in our daily lives, hopes and concerns. The name Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”, and the image of the manger, evoke the meals which we share as families, and the centrality of Jesus, the living bread come down from heaven, in our family life. In this world of frenetic activity, the Christmas crèche also encourages us to pause and contemplate what is truly important in life. Everything in the nativity scene speaks of the harmony and peace that only Christ the Saviour can bring to our lives and to our world. As we gaze upon the lowly scene of Jesus’ birth, let us invite him into our hearts, so that each new day can bring spiritual rebirth and preserve in us the joy of Christmas.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from Canada and the United States of America. I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas, and I thank those people everywhere who have sent me their congratulations and good wishes for my fiftieth ordination anniversary and for my birthday. I thank you in a particular way for the gift of your prayers[Vatican-provided English text]