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Saturday, December 27, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2003 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father celebrated Midnight Mass on the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Thirty cardinals concelebrated. During the Gloria, children from different continents laid flowers before an image of the child Jesus.

In his homily, John Paul II said that the words of the prophet Isaiah, ''for to us a child is born, to us a son is given', contain the truth of Christmas. ' A Child is born. In appearance, just another of the world's many children. A Child is born in a stable in Bethlehem. He is born in a condition of extreme deprivation: poor among the poor. But the One who is born is 'the Son' par excellence. ' Like the unnamed and fortunate shepherds, let us too run to meet the One who has changed the course of history.'

'O Child, who willed to have a manger for your crib,' he exclaimed. 'O Creator of the universe, who stripped yourself of divine glory; O Redeemer, who offered your vulnerable body in sacrifice for the salvation of humanity! May the radiance of your birth light up the night of the world. May the power of your message of love thwart the proud snares of the evil one. May the gift of your life make us understand ever more clearly the worth of the life of each human being.'

'Too much blood is still being shed on the earth! Too much violence and too many conflicts trouble the peaceful coexistence of nations! You come to bring us peace. You are our peace! You alone can make of us 'a people purified' and belonging to you for ever, a people 'zealous for good deeds'.'

The Pope asked Our Lady to give us her 'eyes to contemplate him with faith; grant us your heart to worship him with love. In his simplicity, the Child of Bethlehem teaches us to rediscover the real meaning of our existence.'

'O Holy Night, so long awaited, which has united God and man forever! You rekindle our hope. You fill us with ecstatic wonder,' he concluded. 'You assure us of the triumph of love over hatred, of life over death.'

HML;MIDNIGHT MASS;...;@ ;VIS;20031227;Word: 380;

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