“God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness.” These were the words proclaimed by Pope Francis during his homily at Midnight Mass on Tuesday night. The Holy Father celebrated his first Christmas as Pope on St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Pope began his homily reflecting on the first reading from the prophet Isaiah which he said “never ceases to touch us” The reading, he explained, is not an emotional or sentimental matter but rather, it states our reality of light and darkness in our lives.
“In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing,” he said.
The Pope explained that throughout in the history of salvation, the image of walking begins with Abraham who was called by God to go to the land He would show him. From that point our identity has been related to a people on pilgrimage towards the promised land.
“This history has always been accompanied by the Lord! He is ever faithful to his covenant and to his promises. Because he is faithful, God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” he said. However, in our own personal history, there are moments of both light and darkness.
“If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us,” the Holy Father noted. The Christmas celebration reminds us that in this journey, Christ has taken on our humanity and thus, entered our history and shared our journey.
The 77 year old Pontiff noted that shepherds, the least in society, became the first to receive the news of Christ’s birth. We, as Christians, are called to keep watch as they did.
“Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable,” he said.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to share “the joy of the Gospel” which proclaims God’s love for us in giving us his Son.
“To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!”. As the angels said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid!”. And I also repeat to all of you: Do not be afraid!,” he exclaimed. “Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace.” (J.A.E.)