News And Views
Pope Francis Corner
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2015
Christmas Eve Homily
December 24, 2015
On the Eve of Christmas, Pope Francis proclaimed the “great light” that shines forth with Jesus’ birth. “Our heart was already joyful in awaiting this moment; now that joy abounds and overflows, for the promise has been at last fulfilled,” he said. Jesus banishes sadness and brings comfort. “Today,” said the Holy Father, “the Son of God is born, and everything changes.” The Savior is born; we are no longer alone. “Today we once more discover who we are!”
The pope said that we should be silent and “let the Child speak” as we contemplate his face. “If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart.” Jesus was born in poverty and yet it is there that God’s glory shines forth, showing us how to follow with simple hearts. The Child Jesus “calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential” rather than giving into the “consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism,” of the world.
Pope Francis said, “In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will.” We should be devout and prayerful, empathetic and compassionate, he said, and look at the Lord as the shepherds in Bethlehem did, “with eyes full of amazement and wonder.”
Urbi et Orbi Message on Christmas Day
December 25, 2015
In his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) address on December 25, 2015, Pope Francis hailed Christmas day as a day of mercy, light, peace and joy “in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world.” The Baby in the Crib, he said, is the sign of God’s love and saving mercy, and every year the Church presents this sign to the world. “Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ.” Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to “bow down before the Lamb… worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.”
Jesus alone can save us, the pope said. “Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst.” He spoke in particular of the hatred, violence, and war that continues to exist in the area around where Christ was born, and he called for Israelis and Palestinians to “resume direct dialogue” which would “enable the two peoples to live together in harmony.” The Holy Father also pointed to the many other areas of the world that are experiencing conflict and violence, as well as those suffering from recent acts of terrorism; he called for peace and dialogue. The pope spoke of those who are persecuted for their faith, noting that, “They are our martyrs of today.”
“Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity,” the Holy Father said, calling for the dignity of all to be respected. He prayed that God repay those who generously help migrants and refugees to find homes, and he prayed for the unemployed to find work.
Finally, Pope Francis spoke of the precious gift of mercy which is offered to all, and prayed in particular for prisoners. He ended saying, “As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: ‘for my brethren and companions’ sake, I will say: Peace be within you’ (Ps 121:8).”