Pope Francis encouraged teens to be living witnesses of their faith in his remarks during an audience with young members of the Italian Catholic Action movement.
“Dear young people, Jesus loves you, he wants to be your friend, he wants to be the friend of all young people,” the Pope said Dec. 20. “If you are convinced of this, surely you know to spread the joy of this friendship to all: at home, in the parish, at school, with your friends.”
The Pope said he had heard the Catholic Action movement’s theme for this year is “to discover (in) Jesus the presence of a friend in your life.”
“Christmas is really the celebration of the presence of God who comes into our midst to save us,” he explained, emphasizing the reality of Christmas.
“The birth of Jesus is not a fable! It is history that really happened, at Bethlehem, two thousand years ago. Faith makes us recognize in this baby, born of the Virgin Mary, the true son of God, who for love of us was made man.”
The pontiff further reflected on the importance of Christmas.
“In the face of the little (baby) Jesus, we contemplate the face of God, who does not reveal himself in strength, in power, but in the weakness and fragility of an infant. This baby shows us the faithfulness and the tenderness of the boundless love with which God envelops each one of us.”
“For this reason we celebrate Christmas, reliving the same experience of the shepherds of Bethlehem,” he noted.
“Together with many fathers and mothers who work hard every day, dealing with many sacrifices; together with children, the sick and the poor, we celebrate this holiday.”
The Pope then urged the youth to “witness” to the love of Christ, “carrying yourselves as true Christians: ready to lend a hand to those in need, without judging others, without speaking badly.”
“I encourage you to always be ‘living stones’ in the Church, united to Jesus,” he said.
Pope Francis closed by thanking the members of Catholic Action for their Christmas greeting. He offered his well-wishes and blessing to them in return.