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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas: encounter Jesus in places of wonder

Vatican City, 20 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace at midday today to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among those present there was a large group of children from the Oratories who eagerly awaited the blessing of their figurines of the Baby Jesus for their nativity displays. On the fourth Sunday of Advent the Pope explained that, for celebrate Christmas in a fruitful way, we must stop in places of 'wonder'.

“The first place is the 'other', whom we recognise as our brother or sister, as since the birth of Jesus, every face bears a resemblance to the Son of God, and especially when it is the face of a poor person, because God entered the world in poverty and allowed Himself to be approached first by the poor”. The second place of wonder is history. “Very often we think we see things in the right way, and instead we risk reading things backwards. This happens, for instance, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be. The God of Christmas is instead a God who 'shuffles the deck'.

“The third place of wonder is the Church”, he continued. “To look on her with the wonder of faith means considering the Church not merely as a religious institution – which the Church is – but to feel that she is also a mother in whom, despite her warts and wrinkles – there are so many! – the contours of the bride beloved of and purified by Christ the Lord shine through. A Church who knows how to recognise the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church for whom the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be zealously defended; those who do this are mistaken. The Lord Jesus will always be the One who comes to meet her, Whom she knows to await with trust and joy, giving a voice to the hopes of the world. The Church who calls to the Lord, 'Come Lord Jesus'. The Mother Church whose doors are always open, whose arms are open to welcome everyone. The Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek, with a mother's smile, all of those who are far away to bring them to God's mercy. This is the wonder of Christmas”.

He emphasised that “At Christmas, God gives Himself to us fully by giving His one and only Son, Who is all his joy. It is only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, who become the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that we can rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for His unexpected surprise. … The encounter with Jesus will let us too feel this great wonder. But we cannot have this wonder and we cannot meet Jesus, if we do not meet Him in the other, in history and in the Church”, he concluded.

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