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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 29, 2004 (VIS) - In the last general audience of this year, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about contemplating the birth of Jesus in the manger.

  Before a crowd of 6,500 people, John Paul II said that "on that holy night, God spoke his definitive Word of salvation to humanity in every age and place. ... The liturgy in this period is a meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation."

  "Let us linger before the nativity scene! In this traditional representation of the nativity 'the Eternal and Omnipotent Creator' speaks to us through His Son, Lord of the universe, who became a child living among us.  Mary, his mother, is the first to receive Him and present Him to the world.  Near her, we see St. Joseph, called to act as the father and guardian of our Redeemer."

  The Pope said that the scene is completed by the angels who "proclaim glory to God and peace to mankind, and the shepherds, who represent the humble and poor.  The Magi will soon arrive from afar to adore the King of the universe."

  "The liturgy of Christmastime invites us to go joyfully to the manger in Bethlehem to meet Jesus, our Savior.  Come all ye faithful! Come and let us adore Jesus the Lord!  Let us open the doors of our hearts so that He may accompany us now and during the new year which is about to begin."

  Throughout the 26 years of his pontificate, John Paul II has met with 17.5 million people in 1,160 general audiences.  In 2004, more than 2,200,000 faithful participated in public gatherings with the Holy Father.
AG/CHRISTMAS/...                                VIS 20041229 (260)

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