The 75-foot (23-meter) Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square was lit this evening and the sand-sculpture Nativity scene unveiled.
More than 700 tons of sand went into the life-size sculpture.
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Read below excerpts from the Holy Father’s reflection on the Nativity and the Tree:
The tree and the nativity display are two signs that never cease to appeal to us; they tell us about Christmas and help us to contemplate the mystery of God made man to be close to each one of us. The Christmas tree with its lights reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world, the light of the soul that drives away the darkness of enmities and makes room for forgiveness. The spruce that this year is placed in Piazza San Pietro, coming from the Cansiglio forest, suggests further reflection. With its height of over twenty meters, it symbolizes God Who with the birth of His Son Jesus lowered himself down to man, to raise man to Himself and lift him from the fogs of selfishness and sin. The Son of God assumes the human condition to draw it to Himself and to make it participate in his divine and incorruptible nature. The nativity scene, located in the centre of the Square, is made with sand from Jesola, originally from the Dolomites. The sand, a poor material, recalls the simplicity, the smallness, and also the fragility- as the Patriarch said – with which God showed Himself with the birth of Jesus in precariousness in Bethlehem. It may seem that this smallness contradicts divinity, so much so that some, from the very beginning, considered it only as appearance, a façade. But no, because smallness is freedom. Those who are small – in the evangelical sense – are not only light, but also free from any desire to appear and from any claim to success; like children who express themselves and move spontaneously. We are all called to be free before God, to have the freedom of a child before his father. The Child Jesus, Son of God and our Saviour, whom we place in the manger, is Holy in poverty, smallness, simplicity and humility. The Nativity and the tree, enchanting symbols of Christmas, can bring to families and meeting places a reflection of the light and tenderness of God, to help everyone to live the feast of the birth of Jesus. Contemplating the Child God Who emanates light in the humility of the nativity scene, we can also become witnesses of humility, tenderness and goodness.