Pope Benedict XVI revealed his three Christmas wishes for this year, just before remotely switching on the lights of the world’s largest Christmas tree.
“When we look at it our eyes are lifted up, raised toward the sky, toward the world of God,” said Pope Benedict from his papal apartment as he spoke via video link to the people of the Italian town of Gubbio in Umbria on the evening of Dec 7.
Their tree is over 2,000 feet tall and consists of hundreds of tiny light bulbs. The enormous display sits on the slopes of nearby Mount Ingino.
“My first wish,” he said, “is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, rest not only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God.”
He said that “God never forgets us, but he also asks that we don't forget him.”
The Pope’s second wish was that everyone remember that we “need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness.”
The light that “truly illuminate our hearts” and give us “firm and sure hope” can only be found in “the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we receive Him anew,” he said.
“My final wish,” concluded the Pope, “is that each of us contributes something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns and cities.”
Pope Benedict also reflected on the season of Christmas and prayed that everybody will be a “light for those who are at our sides” so that we overcome our selfishness which so often “closes our hearts and leads us to think only of ourselves.”
He urged everyone to “pay greater attention to others, that we may love them more” during the Christmas season. “Any small gesture of goodness,” he said, “is like one of the lights of this great tree: together with other lights it illuminates the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night.”
The Pope then touched a computer tablet device and remotely illuminated Gubbio’s Christmas tree.