Pope Francis turned his attention to the Feast of the Nativity during his weekly General Audience today.
The “encounter” with the Lord is taking place “in the spiritual climate of Advent,” the Holy Father said, “made even more intense by the Novena of the Holy Nativity that we are living in these days, and that leads us to the Christmas holidays.”
Reflecting on the Nativity of Jesus, he said is a “feast of confidence and hope, that overcomes uncertainty and pessimism.” The reason for our hope, he said, is this: “God is with us, and God still trusts us.”
“God has willed to share our human condition to the point of making himself one of us in the Person of Jesus, who is true man and true God,” the Pope continued. But he added that even more surprising is that Jesus becomes man not in “an ideal world, an idyllic [world], but in this real world, marked by so many things, good and bad, marked by divisions, wickedness, poverty, arrogance and wars.”
In this way God shows that He is merciful towards humanity, and filled with love for us. “He is God-with-us: do you believe this?” Pope Francis asked the crowd. When they responded “Si!” the Holy Father continued “But let us make this confession: Jesus is God-with-us! All together: Jesus is God-with-us!” And he thanked the faithful for their enthusiastic response.
The birth of Jesus, the Pope said, brings us the good news that we are loved “immensely and individually” by God – and God not only helps us to know this love for each of us, but also gives and communicates this love to us.
Pope Francis concluded his audience by pointing out two considerations we can take away from these considerations on the Nativity of Jesus: The first is that God reveals Himself not as one who remains on high and dominates the universe, but as one who humbles Himself. This shows us that in order to be like Him, we must not put ourselves above others, but must humble ourselves and serve others. He had strong words for Christians who refuse to humble themselves: “It is an ugly thing,” he said, “when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”
The second consideration is that, if Jesus has become one of us, than whatever we do for a brother or a sister, we do for Him. “Jesus Himself reminds us: He who has fed, welcomed, visited, loved one of the smallest and poorest of people, has done it for the Son of God.”
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis with greetings for the various groups who attended the audience in Saint Peter’s Square, noting in particular pilgrims from England, Australia and the United States. He also had a word of thanks for members of the group “Up with People” for their musical entertainment during the audience.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In these last days of Advent we prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a feast of joyful hope, for God has become one with us in the person of his Son, true God and true man. He showed his love for us by becoming part of our world, with all its conflicts, its suffering and its poverty. Jesus is truly Emmanuel: God among us. This is the great “gift” which he brings: a divine love which heals and transforms our hearts, overcoming all uncertainty and pessimism. Our joyful contemplation of the mystery of Christmas should make us realize that, as God has become one of us, we too are called to become like God: humble, close to others, especially the poor, and ever attentive to their needs. This Christmas, let us ask Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, to help us see in our neighbour the face of Jesus, God made man. May we be in this world a ray of that light which shone forth from Bethlehem, bringing the joy and peace to the hearts of all men and women.
Greetings: I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience including those from England, Australia and the United States. I thank the members of “Up with People” for their musical entertainment. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!