“In this Christ Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope.”
Pope Francis gave this reminder this Saturday evening when he celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, stressing through Him, God “invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors,” and “makes us agents of his hospitality.”
The night Mary gave birth to Jesus, every element of that night, Francis reflected, became a source of hope.
They found themselves having to face perhaps the most difficult thing of all. They arrived in Bethlehem and experienced that it was a land that was not expecting them. A land where there was no place for them. And there, where everything was a challenge, Mary gave us Emmanuel.
Yet, in the midst of such challenges, Francis encouraged, it was precisely there that the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled.
The shepherds, the Jesuit Pontiff recalled, are the first to hear this Good News. Yet to them –considered at that time pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).
This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with
which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.
“The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think He is absent,” the Pope said, noting He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighborhoods. This same faith, the Pope urged, impels us to make space “for a new social imagination, and not to be afraid of experiencing new forms of relationship, in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.”
“Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a ‘house of bread,’ a land of hospitality.”
Saint John Paul II told us: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ,” Francis reminded.
On the Eve of Christmas, the Pontiff concluded, saying: “In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers Himself to us so that we can take Him into our arms, lift Him and embrace Him.”
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