As Christmas draws nearer, Pope Benedict departed from his tradition of reflecting on an Early Church Father on Wednesdays so that he could point to the impact of Jesus’ birth upon the world.
That God’s son became a man means that mankind is able to become truly human, that this message of salvation must be shared and that peace will come to the world, Benedict XVI explained.
Christmas and Justice
"If, on the one hand, Christmas is a commemoration of the incredible prodigy of the birth of the only-begotten Son of God from the Virgin Mary in the grotto of Bethlehem," said the Pope, "on the other, it also exhorts us to wait, vigilant and prayerful, for our own Redeemer, Who on the last day 'will come to judge the living and the dead'."
Looking at the state of the world today, the Pope departed from his prepared remarks and said, "Perhaps today, we faithful truly believe in the Judge; we all expect justice. We see so many injustices in the world, ... and we expect justice. ... We hope that whoever comes can bring justice. In this context we pray to Jesus Christ to come as a Judge. ... The Lord knows how to come into the world and create justice."
"Hoping for justice in the Christian sense means ... that we too begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, ... creating justice in our own lives,” the Pontiff said.
If we live our lives in a just way, “we can open the world to the coming of the Son and prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord Who comes," remarked Pope Benedict.
Modern Man and Jesus’ Birth
Returning to his prepared text, Benedict XVI focused on the fact that Jesus’ birth is a matter of history: "He Who was generated by the Father in eternity became a man in history thanks to the Virgin Mother. The true Son of God is also a true Son of man.”
“Today, in our secularized world,” the Pope lamented, “these concepts do not seem to count for very much. People prefer to ignore them or to consider them superfluous to life, advancing the pretext that they are so far distant as to be practically untranslatable into convincing and significant words.”
There is also a “view of tolerance and pluralism” in today’s world that says that believing the Truth exists is an “attack on tolerance and the freedom of man,” Benedict said. If, however, truth is cancelled, is man not a being deprived of meaning? Do we not force ourselves and the world into a meaningless relativism?"
This view of reality makes it all the more important “for us to reinforce the mystery of salvation which the celebration of Christ's Nativity brings,” insisted the Holy Father. “In Bethlehem the Light that illuminates our lives was revealed to the world; we were shown the Way that leads us to the fullness of our humanity,” he explained.
Pope Benedict also questioned why any other reason for celebrating Christmas is found to be meaningful: “If we do not recognize that God was made man, what sense does it make to celebrate Christmas?”
Indeed, “We Christians must reaffirm with profound and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's nativity, in order to bear witness before everyone of the unique gift which brings wealth not just to us, but to everyone,” the Pontiff said.
The natural consequence of hearing this ‘good news’ is to share it with others, to evangelize, explained the Pope. He also recommended the document on evangelization issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last week for the faithful's reflection.
"In these days leading up to Christmas," said Pope Benedict, "the Church prays more intensely for the realization of hopes of peace and salvation, of which the world today still has such urgent need. Let us ask God for violence to be defeated with the strength of love, for contrasts to give way to reconciliation, for the desire to dominate to be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace. May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange over these days reach all areas of our daily lives."
"May the message of solidarity and acceptance which arises from Christmas," the Pope concluded, "contribute to creating a more profound awareness of old and new forms of poverty, and of the common good in which everyone is called to participate."