Pope Francis says there are three places to behold the “wonder” of Christmas in our daily lives: in the faces of others, in history and in the Church.
The Holy Father said this today during his address before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Drawing from Elizabeth’s reaction of wonder and astonishment when Mary and the unborn Jesus came to greet her, the Pope said that “to celebrate Christmas well, we are called to spend time” in three “places of astonishment”:
“The first place is ‘the other,’ in whom we recognize a brother, because since the birth of Jesus, every face is marked with a similarity to the Son of God,” the Pope said. “Above all when it is the face of a poor person, because as a poor man, God entered the world and it was the poor, in the first place, that he allowed to approach him.”
Secondly, we can see with wonder the path of history, if we resist the temptation to read it “backwards,” the Pope said.
History is not “determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be,” he suggested. “The God of Christmas is rather a God who ‘shuffles the deck’ […] as Mary sings in the Magnificat, it is the Lord who casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly.”
Finally, the wonder of Christmas is seen in the Church: “To look on her with the wonder of faith means not just considering the Church only as a religious institution – which the Church is – but to feel that she is a mother who, despite her warts and wrinkles – we have so many! – lets the contours of the bride beloved of and purified by Christ the Lord shine through.”
“The Mother Church,” Francis said, “who always has the doors open, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Even more, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek, with the smile of a Mother, all of those who are far away and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the wonder of Christmas.”
The Pope said that we need Mary’s heart to be able to “rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for His unpredictable surprise.”
“May she help us to perceive the wonder, these three wonders: the other, history and the Church,” he prayed. “So let it be with the birth of Jesus – the gift of gifts – the undeserved gift that brings us salvation, that it might also make us feel this wonder in meeting Jesus.”
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