Pope Francis’ Christmas Eve homily text: ‘Everything changes’

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Pope Francis leads the Christmas night Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis leads the Christmas night Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The text of the pope’s Christmas Eve homily as provided by Vatican Radio.

Tonight “a great light” shines forth (Is 9:1); the light of Jesus’ birth shines all about us. How true and timely are the words of the prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: “You have brought abundant joy and great rejoicing” (9:2)! Our heart was already joyful in awaiting this moment; now that joy abounds and overflows, for the promise has been at last fulfilled. Joy and gladness are a sure sign that the message contained in the mystery of this night is truly from God. There is no room for doubt; let us leave that to the skeptics who, by looking to reason alone, never find the truth. There is no room for the indifference which reigns in the hearts of those unable to love for fear of losing something. All sadness has been banished, for the Child Jesus brings true comfort to every heart.

Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Savior of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end. Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem. We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle. We must set out to see our Savior lying in a manger. This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been “born to us”; he was “given to us”, as Isaiah proclaims (cf. 9:5). The people who for for two thousand years has traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy is now given the mission of making known “the Prince of peace” and becoming his effective servant in the midst of the nations.

So when we hear the story of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic freedom and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, “to reject godless ways” and the richness of the world, in order to live “temperately, justly and devoutly” (Tit 2:12).

In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.

Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: “Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation” (Ps 85:8).

 

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  • “may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God.”

    Not me. I can’t accept such a claim.

    Instead, this Christmas I will think about those other children – The 200,000 innocent little baby girls who were slaughtered and burned alive
    because Christians later called them witches and condemned them to death.

    Witches!? None had supernatural powers. They were killed thanks to superstitious hogwash and directives from Jesus which commanded death:

    “men shall gather… those who do not abide in me…and they shall be burned in the fire.” – JESUS (John 15:6)

    The price humanity has paid for these unfounded claims
    has been unending agony.

    Dear Pope – Either prove the claim is a fact or get off the stage!

  • Jim High

    Everything changes??? What about all that ancient language intended to keep the myth of Jesus’s birth story alive as if it was a real event in history. That is what needs to change. God is Nature and no word of Nature books were written and Nature didn’t have a son. Jesus was a Wise Jewish Sage and his message was important. Let’s stick with that.

  • Paul

    Please leave bitterness aside and have a happy Christmas.

  • John

    Through the centuries people have taken scripture and used it for their own purposes, as you are today. Mr Obama us taking the constitution and using excerpts from it for his own purposes and ignoring its truth. Until people are willing to see the world and beyond through the eyes of truth we will be a people divided by self interest rather than a people united by truth.

  • Kyle

    Going to the “Manger” to discover the “Child Jesus” isn’t going to save anyone. I love the Christmas Story, not because it’s an end in itself, but because it shows the beginning of Jesus’ time on earth. He was given as redeemer to all mankind to live the perfect life you and I can’t live and shed his blood on the cross to take away our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Pope envisions Christianity as a means to end conflict in the world. As nice as that sounds and as much as Christians should seek to live peaceably with all people, the Pope’s vision of unity and world peace will not happen until Christ comes back with His Saints and establishes the millenial kingdom (Isaiah 2:4, Revelation 19:15). In fact, the quest for unity on human ideals and around this powerless infant Jesus fantasy is exactly the type of thinking that will prep people to believe the wonders of the end times False Prophet and anti-Christ.

  • @Paul,

    Wrong.
    Christmas is a day to weep for
    the innocents who have been slaughtered at Jesus’ instruction.

    Once upon a time, December 25th offered true good news: The return of daylight after a dark season. And for that reason I am celebrating with my family and friends a wonderful holiday.

    The Solstice is the reason for the season.
    Jesus is the reason for the sorrow.

    “execute them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  • Scott

    We Christians have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus. John 15 makes it clear that those who the Father (the vinedresser) has given will be grafted to the True Vine – Jesus. Once grafted, our process of sanctification (to sin less) commences in which we learn to abide in Jesus’ teachings – with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We continue to stumble and sin but we also learn to show grace and mercy to others, and during our lives we are pruned to produce better and more fruits.
    I believe Atheist Max rightly points out the horrors and atrocities that take place in the name of religion, and by atheist nations/individuals as well. However, apart from Jesus we can produce no good fruit and sin increases causing the branch that was never truly grafted, not a true follower of Jesus, to wither and die – to be cast into hell.
    God will not be mocked by those who claim the name of Jesus but were never grafted by Him; nor is He bound to exclude grace from a skeptic. Merry Christmas,…

  • M.M

    Today we come together to remember the profound love God has for each and every one of us. Today we remember how Jesus Christ relinquished his heavenly glory and became a baby who, born to a poor and seemingly insignificant woman, was lowly by every human standard. Just as Jesus loved every “reject” and “outcast”– the widow, the leper, the tax collector– so too does Jesus love us, despite our flaws, past mistakes, and shortcomings. The God of the universe personally loves every imperfect human being– you, me, the cashier at the mall, and the homeless person in the shelter downtown. Though we suffer on earth, we can be comforted by the knowledge that God is with us through that suffering. He is with us always. And that is reason to celebrate.

  • Catholic Jason

    To be logical, Max, you must be consistent. Apply your standard of critique to every grouping of humanity without bias and be rigorous. What horrors have atheistic groups committed in order to bring about their “enlightenment?” It is estimated that in the past 100 years, governments under the banner of atheistic communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 to 259,432,000 human lives. The grace of God, his revelation through Jesus Christ, and his bride the Church, have helped constrain the evil tendencies of humanity, yet they still exist. Why do you attack Christian groups for atrocities when in power, when in comparison atheistic groups have tended so much worse? You are not being logical, not being consistent. A perfectionist fallacy ails you. No human grouping will ever be perfect, but all other things being equal, a Catholic group will always fare better because they are more open to the influence of the one true God, source of all life, love, and…

  • @Catholic Jason,

    “apply your standard…..to the atheistic horrors causing deaths of (millions)..”

    Wrong.

    1. Religion is Messianism – the claim a divine man with perfect answers exists. And second, you are OBLIGATED to seek him. Trump’s candidacy rises in a society soaked in Messianism even though Trump is not religious himself.

    2. You imply had Atheist leaders been Christian they would have behaved better, yet history proves otherwise. Killer priests and nuns slaughtered 900,000 people in Rwanda in 1992; Christians killing at the direction of “holy” texts include Hitler.

    3. I reject guilt by association. Otherwise, I’ll tar you as Torquemada Christian Terrorist and assume your bloodlust.

    4. I reject the claim Religion ‘done properly’ won’t lead to murder: “Execute them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    5. America’s founders warned against religion. The Establishment Clause remains our only protection against it.

  • Patty Stone Ramirez

    Jesus never ordered any man, woman, or child slaughtered.

  • @Patty:

    “I shall kill her children with death” – JESUS (Rev. 2:23)
    “Execute my enemies in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “if you have money, buy a sword” – JESUS (Luke 22:36-37)
    “and they will be burned” – JESUS (John 15:6)
    “He should be drowned with a millstone” – JESUS (Luke 17:2)
    “My kingdom advances with violence.” – JESUS (MATTHEW 11:12)

    “How dare you ignore the law for your tradition? God has told you, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother must be put to death'” – JESUS (Matthew 15:3)

    6% of the population has read the entire Bible and knows it well.
    We are called Atheists.