Millions of people around the world virtually join Pope Francis for the “Mass at night” for Christmas, celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday.
By the editor of Vatican News
With Italy under a new holiday block, Pope Francis celebrated Christmas mass “during the night” in an almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday night. Millions of people were able to follow the ceremony through radio, television and various media.
In his homily, Pope Francis said: “The birth of Jesus is the ‘novelty’ that allows us to be reborn each year and find, in Him, the strength necessary to face all trials”.
Jesus was born “for us”
The birth of Jesus, said the Pope, is for we; and he noticed how many times the word “for” appears “on this sacred night”.
“However, what do these words – ‘for us’ – really mean?” he asked. “They mean that the Son of God, who is holy by nature, came to make us, children of God, holy by grace.” This is a “magnificent gift”, he said, a gift that is “pure grace”, which does not depend on anything we can do, but only on God’s love for us.
“For us” a child is given
God’s gift to us at Christmas is not just a thing or an object. Instead, Pope Francis said, God gave His only begotten Son, “Who is all His joy”.
And yet, the Pope continued, “our own ingratitude towards God and our injustice towards so many of our brothers and sisters” can make us question whether God was right to give us this gift of His Son. In fact, nothing we can do can make us worthy of this gift.
Rather, it is only because of God’s “infallible love” for us, His “unchanging love that changes us” that leads God to give us His Son.
A love that strikes our poverty
It is because of God’s infinite love for us that Jesus was born, not in a palace, but in a stable manger. Jesus “came into the world as every child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love … God loves to do wonders in our poverty,” said the Pope.
This is a sign, he continued, “to guide us through life”. In Bethlehem, “God is lying in a manger, as if to remind us that, to live, we need Him, like the bread we eat. We need to be filled with His free, unfailing, concrete love. “
Pope Francis insisted that “the manger, poor in everything, but rich in love, teaches us that true nutrition comes from letting ourselves love for God and loving others in turn”.
Teaching us how to love
God came to us at Christmas as a weak and vulnerable child to teach us how to love, said the Pope. “God came among us in poverty and need, to tell us that by serving the poor, we will show our love for Him.”
Pope Francis concluded the homily with a prayer to the newborn Savior: “Jesus, you are the Boy who makes me a boy. You love me as I am, not as I imagine myself to be. In embracing you, Son of the manger, I embrace my life once again. In welcoming you, Bread of life, I too wish to give my life. You, my Savior, teach me to serve. You who have not left me alone, help me to comfort your brothers and sisters, because, from this night on, everyone is my brothers and sisters. “