These upcoming days are marvelous, because they bring us
the announcement of our Lord's coming to live among men.
The moment the word "Christmas" is heard
people right away think: happiness, joy....
For some, it is a merely external happiness: parties, lights....
We Christians should pray that all mankind may come to know
the gift that our Lord grants us by coming to remain with us.
Not only for ourselves, but also for our families
so that each home may be an extension of the marvelous home
formed in Bethlehem and Nazareth, despite the poverty and material deprivation.
It is important to pay attention to what the Gospel of St. Luke tells us
when recounting how the Angel comes to seek out the shepherds,
who are filled with fear, as is only natural, at this amazing news
that is attested to by the Angel's presence.
The Angel tells them: I bring you marvelous news,
Christ the Saviour has been born for you.
This is what happens each day with our Lord,
who wants to come to dwell, to remain with us.
Consider the people present at the Nativity scene.
Jesus, all-generous, giving himself completely,
because being God omnipotent, being God without limits,
nevertheless he becomes a small creature so that all women and men,
in every place, may dare to draw close to him and speak with him.
I am moved on seeing how, thanks to God's goodness, the custom is spreading,
and I ask our Lord that it not be something merely external,
of placing in many homes a Crib scene.
May it not be merely an external adornment,
looking at our Lord and not responding.
We have to love him, responding to his love.
There we have the school to learn to love him,
in the figures accompanying him, in Mary and Joseph.
It's extraordinary how Christ chose to come into the world: in a stable, in Bethlehem.
And nevertheless, there, where all material goods were lacking,
was found the richness of heaven that the earth cannot give.
And therefore, Mary and Joseph constantly tried
to thank our Lord by their behaviour, by their care for him,
in response to what they had received.
They never cease marvelling at the gift they have received from God.
May every person and family have the constant desire
to strive to live facing God and for God.
We will draw a lot of good from this,
since by being close to God we will learn to treat better
our friends and colleagues, and also those we don't know.
I think that the atmosphere of external joy found in many cities,
with so many decorations and lights, needs to be a spur for us
to speak about its real meaning: that it shouldn't be something merely external,
but that it should also lead to a deeper fraternity and unity among all mankind.
We have to spend these marvelous days united to all humanity,
and specifically to those who for whatever reason are suffering:
the sick, the poor, and also the people in countries
where peace is lacking: also external peace, because of war and aggression.
It's only logical that we children of God, on seeing this God of ours
giving himself to us with such great generosity,
also want to follow in his footsteps and give ourselves to the others.
And we have to begin in our own family.
We wouldn't truly love mankind nor people in other places
if we didn't love, in Christ and for Christ, all the people in our own family.
I hope that this Christmas will be a personal feast,
and also a family feast and a feast shared with all mankind.
May God help all of us to be each day more faithful.