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Angelus Address: On the Meaning of Jesus’ Birth (Full Text)

“The Overwhelming Novelty Is that the Eternal Word Became Flesh”

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this second Sunday of Christmastide, the biblical Readings help us to widen our gaze to be fully aware of the meaning of Jesus’ birth. The Book of Sirach celebrates the coming of divine Wisdom in the midst of the people (Cf. chapter 24); He is still not incarnate but is personified and, at a certain point, He says of Himself: “The One who created me assigned a place for my tent. And He said, ‘Make your dwelling in Jacob and in Israel receive your inheritance’” (24:8).

The Gospel, with Saint John’s Prologue, shows us that the Word, the eternal and creative Word, is the only-begotten Son of God (Cf. 1:1-18). He isn’t a creature but a divine Person; in fact, of Him it is said: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). Now, the overwhelming novelty is in fact that this eternal Word “became flesh” (v. 14). Not only did He come to live among the people, but He made himself one of the people. After this event, we no longer have only a law, an institution to orient our life, but a divine Person, Jesus, who orients our life, who makes us go on the way because he did so first.

Saint Paul blesses God for His plan of love realized in Jesus Christ (Cf. Ephesians 1:3-6.15-18). In this plan, each one of us finds his fundamental vocation. What is it? Saint Paul says thus: we are predestined to be children of God by the work of Jesus Christ. The Son of God became man to make us men, children of God. The eternal Son was made flesh for this: to introduce us in His filial relationship with the Father.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, while we continue to contemplate the wondrous sign of the Nativity Scene, today’s Liturgy tells us that Christ’s Gospel isn’t a fable, a myth, an edifying account, no. Christ’s Gospel is the full revelation of God’s plan, of God’s plan for man and for the world. It is at once a simple and grandiose message, which drives us to ask ourselves: what concrete plan has the Lord put in me, actualizing again His birth in our midst?

It is the Apostle Paul that suggests the answer: “[God] chose us [. . . ] to be holy and blameless before Him” in charity (v. 4) Here is the meaning of Christmas. If the Lord continues to come in our midst, if He continues to make us the gift of His Word, it’s so that each one of us can respond to this call: to become holy in love. Holiness is to belong to God, communion with Him, reflection of His infinite goodness. Holiness is to protect the gift that God has given us. It is only this: to guard the gratuitousness. This is to be holy. Therefore, whoever receives holiness in himself as gift of grace, cannot but translate it into concrete action in the everyday. This gift, this grace that God has given me, I translate into concrete actions in the everyday, in the encounter with others. This charity, this mercy toward our neighbour, reflection of the love of God, purifies at the same time our heart and disposes us to forgiveness, rendering us “immaculate” day after day. However, immaculate not in the sense that I remove a stain; immaculate in the sense that God enters in us, the gift, God’s gratuitousness enters in us and we protect it and give it to others.

May the Virgin Mary help us to receive with joy and gratitude God’s divine plan of love realized in Jesus Christ.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Felt in many parts of the world is a terrible air of tension. War brings only death and destruction. I call all sides to keep alight the flame of dialogue and self-control and to ward off the shadow of enmity. Let us pray in silence that the Lord may give us this grace.

A warm greeting goes to you, pilgrims from Italy and from other countries. I greet the families, the Associations, the parish groups, in particular the Confirmation youngsters of Mozzo and Alme — you have a nice sign! — diocese of Bergamo, and the group of the Fraterna Domus.”

On this first Sunday of the year, I renew to all best wishes for serenity and peace in the Lord. In happy and in difficult moments, let us entrusts ourselves to Him, who is our hope! I also remember the commitment we made for the New Year, Day of Peace: “Peace as path of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion.” With God’s grace, we will be able to put it into practice.

I wish you a happy Sunday. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and see you tomorrow for the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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