Pope at Christmas Mass: 'Jesus shows God's closeness amid consumerist rush'

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Pope Francis presides over the Mass on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord and reflects on the closeness, poverty and concreteness of the manger in which Mary laid the Child Jesus.

By Devin Watkins

“If you feel consumed by events, if you are consumed by a sense of guilt and inadequacy, if you hunger for justice, I, your God, am with you.”

As the Church celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis offered that assurance to Christians around the world as he presided at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday night.

in his homilythe Pope observed that the Gospel of the birth of Jesus seeks to “lead us where God wants us to go”, even when we run consumed by consumerist goals.

He focused his reflection on the importance that the Evangelist Luke attributes to the manger in which Mary laid her Son, noting that his Gospel repeats the term three times in the space of just a few verses (Lk 2).

With the small detail of the manger, he said, the evangelist seeks to show us the “closeness, poverty and concreteness” of God in his Son, Jesus.

Pope Francis at Mass

Pope Francis at Mass

Proximity in the ‘manger of rejection’

Pope Francis said the manger can symbolize humanity’s “greed for consumption” as it serves as a feeder that allows food to be consumed more quickly.

“While animals feed in their stalls,” he said, “men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbors, their brothers and sisters.”

He lamented the proliferation of wars and injustices and their deleterious effects on human dignity and freedom, especially of children.

However, the Pope said, the Son of God is placed for the first time precisely in that “manger of rejection and refusal”, making God present even in the worst conditions of human existence.

“There, in that manger, Christ is born, and there we discover his closeness to us. He comes there, to a feeder, to become our food”.

Confidence in the closeness of God

The Pope added that God is a Father who – instead of devouring his children – “feeds us with his tender love”, approaching us with humility.

Each of us can feel God’s closeness in our suffering and loneliness, he said.

“The Christmas crib, the first message of the divine Child, tells us that God is with us; He loves us and seeks us.”

He said that “there is no evil or sin that Jesus does not want to save us from. And He can. Christmas means that God is close to us: that trust is reborn!”

Pope Francis at Mass

Pope Francis at Mass

True Wealth Found in the Poverty of Jesus

Pope Francis then turned to the message of “poverty” expressed in the manger, surrounded by very little but love.

“The poverty of the manger”, he said, “shows us where the true riches of life are found: not in money and power, but in relationships and people”.

Jesus, the Pope added, is the greatest wealth we can obtain, especially when we learn to love and serve his poverty in the poor of our world.

“It’s not easy to leave the comfortable warmth of worldliness to embrace the austere beauty of the grotto of Bethlehem, but let’s remember that it’s not really Christmas without the poor.”

God concretely embraces the harsh human existence

Finally, the Pope focused on the “concreteness” manifested in Jesus, lying in a manger.

“A child lying in a manger presents us with an impressive, even raw, scene,” he said. “It reminds us that God actually became flesh.”

In every moment of his life, Pope Francis said, Jesus’ love for us was “always palpable and concrete”, as he embraced “the roughness of wood and the hardness of our existence”.

As Jesus lay in a manger “tenderly wrapped in swaddling clothes for Mary,” Jesus shows us that He wants to be clothed in our love for those around us who are most in need.

mass during the night

mass during the night

Jesus gives flesh and life to our faith

Pope Francis also invited everyone to celebrate Christmas by doing something good for others, in order to let “hope be reborn in those who feel hopeless”.

“Jesus, we see you lying in the manger,” he prayed in conclusion. “We see you as near, always by our side: thank you Lord! we see you as poor, to teach us that true wealth does not reside in things, but in people, and above all in the poor: forgive us if we do not recognize you and serve you in them. we see you as concrete, because your love for us is palpable. Help us to give flesh and life to our faith.”

Pope Francis Christmas Mass