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Christmas - Natale - Navidad - Noël 2013

Pope Francis' Homily at Midnight Mass       
- in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9, 1).

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to move us, especially when we hear it in the Liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not just an emotional, sentimental fact; it moves us because it tells the profound reality of what we are: we are the people on a pathway, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. And on this night, while the spirit of darkness envelopes the world, the event
is renewed which always amazes and surprises us: the people on the pathway see a great light. A light that makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.

To walk. This verb reminds us of the course of history, of that long pathway which is the history of salvation, beginning with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to leave his country so as to go to the land that the Lord would show him. Since then, our identity as believers has been that of a race making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history is always accompanied by the Lord! He is always faithful to his covenant and to his promises. Because He is faithful, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1, 5). On the part of the people, on the other hand, alternate moments of light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; moments as a pilgrim people and moments as an errant people.

In our personal history as well alternate
moments luminous and dark, light and shadow. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light, but if our hearts are closed, if pride, deceit, the pursuit of self-interest prevail in us, then darkness descends within us and around us. “Whoever hates his brother – writes the Apostle John – is in the darkness, he walks in the darkness and does not know where to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 Jn 2, 11). The people on the pathway, but the pilgim people who do not want to be the errant people.

2. On this night, like a beam of brilliant light, there rings out the announcement of the Apostle: “The grace of God has appeared, which brings salvation to all men” (Tit 2, 11).

The grace that has appeared in the world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has come into our history, he has shared our pathway. He has come to free us from the darkness and to give us the light. In Him has appeared the grace, the mercy, the tenderness of the Father: Jesus is Love made flesh. He is not only a master of wisdom, he is not an ideal to which we strive and from which we know ourselves to be inexorably distant, He is the meaning of life and of history who has pitched his tent among us.

3. The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the announcement of the birth of Jesus. They were the first because they were among the last, the marginalized. And they were the first because they kept vigil in the night, keeping watch over their flocks. The law of the pilgrim is to keep vigil, and they kept vigil. With them, we stop before the Child, we pause in silence. With them, we thank the Lord for having given us Jesus, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts praise for his fidelity: We bless You, Lord God Most High, who lowered yourself for us. You are immense, and you made yourself little; you are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are omnipotent, and you made yourself weak.

On this night we share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, He loves us so much that He gave his Son as our brother, as light in our darkness. The Lord repeats to us: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2, 10). As the angels said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid!” And I also repeat to you all: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, He loves us, He gives us Jesus to guide us on the pathway towards the promised land. He is the light that illuminates the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace. Amen."

Francis - St Peter's Basilica, 24 December 2013

Papa Francesco's Urbi et Orbi Message
- in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours (Lk 2, 14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the whole world, greetings and Happy Christmas!

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.

Glory to God!

Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.

May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.

Peace to mankind

True peace - we know this well - is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely 'façade' which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, but making peace is an art, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.

Looking at the Child in the manger, Child of peace, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!

Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world. And I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace.

Grant peace, dear Child, to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused too many victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.

Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favourable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.

Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!

Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.

Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, in this world, in this humanity, is born the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us not fear this. Let us not fear that our hearts be moved. We need this! Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God’s caresses do not harm us. They give us peace and strength. We need his caresses. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our lives, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.

Christmas greetings after the Urbi et Orbi Message:

To you, dear brothers and sisters, gathered from throughout the world in this Square, and to all those from different countries who join us through the communications media, I offer my cordial best wishes for a merry Christmas!

On this day illumined by the Gospel hope which springs from the humble stable of Bethlehem, I invoke the Christmas gift of joy and peace upon all: upon children and the elderly, upon young people and families, the poor and the marginalized. May Jesus, who was born for us, console all those afflicted by illness and suffering; may he sustain those who devote themselves to serving our brothers and sisters who are most in need. Happy Christmas to all!"

Francis - St Peter's Square, The Vatican, Thursday 25 December 2013

Pope Francis' Catechesis on the Birth of Jesus
General Audience, Wednesday 18 December 2013, St Peter's Sq- in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Our meeting is taking place in the spiritual climate of Advent, which is made all the more intense by the Holy Christmas Novena we are experiencing in these days that lead us to the celebration of Christmas. Therefore, today I would like to reflect with you on the Birth of Jesus, the feast of trust and of hope which overcomes uncertainty and pessimism. And the reason for our hope is this: God is with us and God still trusts us! Think well on this: God is with us and God still trusts us. God the Father is generous. He comes to abide with mankind, he chooses earth as his dwelling place to remain with people and to be found where man passes his days in joy or in sorrow. Therefore, earth is no longer only “a valley of tears”; rather, it is the place where God himself has pitched his tent, it is the meeting place of God with man, of God's solidarity with men.

God willed to share in our human condition to the point of becoming one with us in the Person of Jesus, who is true Man and true God. However, there is something even more surprising. The presence of God among men did not take place in a perfect, idyllic world but rather in this real world, which is marked by so many things both good and bad, by division, wickedness, poverty, arrogance and war. He chose to live in our history as it is, with all the weight of its limitations and of its tragedies. In doing so, he has demonstrated in an unequalled manner his merciful and truly loving disposition toward the human creature. He is God-with-us. Jesus is God-with-us. Do you believe this? Together let us profess: Jesus is God with us! Jesus is God with us always and for ever with us in history's suffering and sorrow. The Birth of Jesus reveals that God “sided” with man once and for all, to save us, to raise us from the dust of our misery, from our difficulty, from our sins.

Hence the great “gift” of the Child of Bethlehem: He brings us a spiritual energy, an energy which helps us not to despair in our struggle, in our hopelessness, in our sadness, for it is an energy that warms and transforms the heart. Indeed, the Birth of Jesus brings us the good news that we are loved immensely and uniquely by God, and he not only enables us to know this love, he also gives it to us, he communicates it to us!

We may derive two considerations from the joyous contemplation of the mystery of the Son of God born for us.

The first is that if God, in the Christmas mystery, reveals himself not as One who remains on high and dominates the universe, but as the One who bends down, descends to the little and poor earth, it means that, to be like him, we should not put ourselves above others, but indeed lower ourselves, place ourselves at the service of others, become small with the small and poor with the poor. It is regrettable to see a Christian who does not want to lower himself, who does not want to serve. A Christian who struts about is ugly: this is not Christian, it is pagan. The Christian serves, he lowers himself. Let us be sure that our brothers and sisters do not ever feel alone!

The second consequence: if God, through Jesus, involved himself with man to the point of becoming one of us, it means that whatever we have done to a brother or a sister we have done to him. Jesus himself reminded us of this: whoever has fed, welcomed, visited, loved one of the least and poorest of men, will have done it to the Son of God.

Let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, that she may help us this holy Christmastide, which is already close at hand, to see in the face of our neighbour, especially the weakest and most marginalized people, the image of the Son of God made man."


"Bienvenue à vous tous, chers pèlerins francophones. En ce temps de l’Avent qui se poursuit, je vous invite à contempler l’abaissement du Fils de Dieu, venu pour nous sauver, afin de l’imiter dans le service des personnes les plus faibles qui nous entourent. Que Dieu vous bénisse! Bonne préparation à Noël!

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience including those from England, Australia and the United States. I thank the members of “Up with People” for their musical entertainment. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Von Herzen begrüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache, heute besonders die Delegation des Landes Oberösterreich in Begleitung des Bischofs von Linz Ludwig Schwarz. Ihr habt das Friedenslicht von Betlehem mitgebracht. Es ist ein starkes Zeichen, das uns in unserem Vorsatz erleuchte, Licht der Welt zu sein, uns das Vertrauen und die Hoffnung authentischer Kinder Gottes ausstrahlen lasse und den Frieden Christi in unsere Familien und in unsere Nachbarschaft bringe. Gerne erbitte ich Gottes Segen und Gnade für euch und eure Lieben.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, México, Argentina y otros países latinoamericanos. Saludo de manera especial al equipo de fútbol de San Lorenzo, que acaba de salir campeón el domingo pasado y ha venido a traer la copa aquí. Muchas gracias. Confío a todos ustedes a la protección maternal de María, Madre de Dios y Madre nuestra. Que ella los cuide y los llene de alegría y de paz. Muchas gracias.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, a minha cordial saudação para todos, em particular para os fiéis brasileiros de Chapecó, com votos de um santo Natal repleto de consolações e graças do Deus Menino. Nos vossos corações, famílias e comunidades, resplandeça a luz do Salvador, que nos revela o rosto terno e misericordioso do Pai do Céu. Ele vos abençoe com um Ano Novo sereno e feliz!

أيها الحجاج الأعزاء الناطقون باللغة العربيّة، كونوا دائمًا في حياتِكُم انعكاسًا لنورِ يسوعَ وامتدادًا لهُ، وانشُروا الفرَحَ والسلامَ من حولِكُم! ليبارككم الرب!

Pozdrawiam serdecznie Polaków: was tu obecnych, waszych rodaków w kraju i za granicą. Już wkrótce nasze serca przeniknie radość Wigilii i świąt Bożego Narodzenia. Zostawiając wolne miejsce przy wigilijnym stole pomyślmy o biednych, głodujących, samotnych, bezdomnych, zepchniętych na margines życia, doświadczonych wojną, zwłaszcza o dzieciach! W nich także obecny jest Jezus, Syn Boży, który stał się człowiekiem. Otwórzmy dla nich serca tak, by nasza radość stała się ich udziałem. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

* * *

Nel clima di serena attesa, caratteristico di questi giorni prossimi alla festa che celebra la venuta di Dio fra gli uomini, mi è gradito salutare con affetto i fedeli di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto i fedeli della Diocesi di Campobasso-Boiano, accompagnati dal loro Pastore Mons. Giancarlo Bregantini; la Comunità dei Legionari di Cristo con i sacerdoti novelli; i consacrati e le consacrate del Movimento Regnum Christi; la delegazione del Comune di Bolsèna; l’Associazione Europassione per l’Italia e l’Ordine degli Avvocati di Roma. Tutti esorto a rendere più intenso in questi giorni l’impegno nella preghiera e con le opere buone, affinché il Natale riempia i cuori della gioia vera che solo Cristo può dare.

Un saluto speciale rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Cari giovani, specialmente vari gruppi scout, accostatevi al mistero di Betlemme con gli stessi sentimenti di fede e di umiltà che furono di Maria. Voi, cari ammalati, attingete dal presepe quella gioia e quell'intima pace che Gesù viene a portare nel mondo. E voi, cari sposi novelli, contemplate l’esempio della santa Famiglia di Nazaret imitandone le virtù."