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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

JOYFUL EXPECTATION OF CHRISTMAS AMONG CHRISTIANS

VATICAN CITY, 22 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At this final general audience before Christmas, "with trepidation and wonder we approach the 'place' where everything began for us and for our salvation, where everything was fulfilled, where the expectations of the world and of the human heart came together", said the Pope in his catechesis during today's general audience, held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

"Joyful expectation, so characteristic of the days leading up to Christmas, is certainly the prevalent attitude among Christians who wish to draw fruit from the renewed encounter with the One Who came to live among us: Christ Jesus, the Son of God made man", said the Holy Father. "We find this attitude - and make it our own - in those who first welcomed the coming of the Messiah: Zachariah and Elisabeth, the shepherds, the simple folk, and especially Mary and Joseph".

"The entire Old Testament constitutes a single great promise which was to be fulfilled with the coming of a saviour", the Pope explained. "And thus, along with the hope of the characters of Sacred Scripture, over the centuries our own hope also finds its place and meaning, the hope we are experiencing over these days, the hope that keeps us alert for the entire duration of our lives. All human existence, in fact, is animated by this profound sentiment, by the longing that the truest, the most beautiful, the greatest things we have seen and felt in our minds and hearts, may come towards us, taking concrete form before our eyes".

"The Saviour", Pope Benedict went on, "comes to incapacitate the work of evil, the things that still keep us distant from God, restoring us to our ancient splendour and our original paternity. ... His coming, then, can have no other aim than that of teaching us to see and love events, the world and everything that surrounds us, with the eyes of God Himself. The Word, by becoming a Child, helps us to understand the way God acts, that we too may be capable of allowing ourselves to be transformed by His goodness and infinite mercy.

"In the night of the world, let us still allow ourselves to be surprised and illuminated by this coming, by the Star which, rising in the East, has inundated the universe with joy", the Pope added. "Let us purify our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with this coming - thoughts, words, attitudes and actions - spurring ourselves on to do good and to help bring peace and justice to our world for all men and women, and thus to walk towards the Lord".

Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis by speaking about nativity scenes, which he described as "a characteristic sign of this Christmas period. ... The nativity scene is an expression of our hope, but also a way of giving thanks to the One Who, in poverty and simplicity, chose to share our human condition", he said. "I joy at the fact that the tradition of preparing nativity scenes remains alive in homes and in the places where people work and meet, indeed that it is being rediscovered. May this genuine testimony of Christian faith still provide all men and women of good will with a moving symbol of the Father's infinite love for us all. May the hearts of children and adults still feel wonder and surprise as they behold it".
AG/ VIS 20101222 (580)

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