.- Nearly seven thousand people gathered this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to participate in Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly General Audience. The Holy Father told those gathered that only by welcoming God’s Christmas gift of love in the Incarnation will man be able to adequately give Glory to God and build peace in the World.
Pope Benedict said that through history Christians have constantly been faced with the mystery of the incarnation and the subsequent question, “But why did it happen, why did God become man?”
One answer, he said, comes in the message of the “multitude of angels” to the shepherds near Bethlehem. “The angels announced to the shepherds that the birth of Jesus ‘is’ Glory to God in the Highest; and ‘is’ peace on earth on those men on whom His favor rests.”
“God’s glory, shining on the face of Christ,” he said, “brings that peace which is the crowning of his messianic gifts.”
“Ultimately,” he said, “the Incarnation is the fruit of God’s infinite love for humanity; it reveals, in (Hans Urs) von Balthasar’s insightful phrase, that God is not primarily absolute power, but absolute love, a love revealed in the complete gift of himself.”
Thus, the Pope said, “the only way to glorify God and to construct peace in the world, consists in the humble and faithful reception of the gift of Christmas: love.”
“Saint Irenaeus tells us that the Word became flesh in order to give us a share in God’s glory: ‘The glory of God is the living man, and the life of man consists in the vision of God,’” the Pope said.
Concluding with an explanation of some technical terms the Holy Father said that “Good will” (eudokia), refers to the, “‘good desires’ God has for man” and that “with the birth of Jesus, God has manifested his good desires for all.”
The Holy Father concluded his message by offering greetings in several different languages and bestowing his apostolic blessing on the gathered faithful.