.- In his first general audience of this year, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope Benedict XVI pointed out how the atmosphere of Christmas "invites us to rejoice for the birth of the Redeemer."
Referring to the gift of Christmas, the Holy Father said, "Those who pause in meditation before the Son of God lying defenseless in the manger cannot but marvel at this humanly incredible event; they cannot but share the wonder and the humble abandonment of the Virgin Mary, whom God chose as the Mother of the Redeemer precisely because of her humility.”
"In the Child of Bethlehem," the Pope added, "all mankind discovers itself to be gratuitously loved by God. In the light of Christmas, the infinite goodness of God is made plain to each of us. In Jesus, the heavenly Father inaugurated a new relationship with us: He made us 'sons in the Son'."
"However, the joy of Christmas does not make us forget the mystery of evil (mysterium iniquitatis), the power of the dark that seeks to obscure the splendor of divine light, and unfortunately we experience this power of darkness every day. ... This is the drama of the rejection of Christ which, today as in the past, shows and expresses itself in many different ways."
Indeed, he continued, "perhaps the ways of refusing God in the modern age are even more insidious and dangerous: from outright rejection to indifference, from scientistic atheism to the presentation of a modernized or post-modernized Jesus, a human Jesus, reduced in various ways to being a simple man of His time and deprived of His divinity; or perhaps a Jesus so idealized as to appear as a character of legend."
Yet, Pope Benedict said, "only the Child lying in the manger possesses the real secret of life. For this reason He asks for acceptance, for space to be made for Him among us, in our hearts, in our houses, in our cities and in our societies," In this "we are helped by the simplicity of the shepherds and the quest of the Magi, who through the star scrutinized the signs of God, [and by] the docility of Mary and the prudent wisdom of Joseph."
"At the beginning of this new year, let us reawaken our commitment to open our minds and hearts to Christ, sincerely demonstrating to Him our will to live as His true friends. Thus will we become collaborators in His plan of salvation and witnesses of the joy He brings, that we may spread it abundantly about us.”
“Let us accompany Jesus, walk with Him, and thus the new year will be happy and good," the Pope concluded.