In greetings to Vatican employees and their families, Francis says his wish for the season is that we might smile, and experience God's smile
Pope Francis spoke with the employees of the Vatican and their families at an annual Christmas meeting, and told them that his wish could be summed up in one word: smile.
The pope talked of how wonderful it is to smile at a newborn — and even more so if we manage to get the baby to smile back at us.
Then he reflected on how Mary and Joseph did this with Jesus, finding in their Infant’s smile the smile of God himself, and his promise of mercy.
When we look at a newborn baby, we are led to smile at him or her, and if a smile blossoms on its small face, then we feel a simple, innocent emotion. The child responds to our gaze, but his smile is much more “powerful,” because it is new, pure, like spring water, and in us adults it awakens an intimate nostalgia for childhood.
Francis said that this interaction of smiles happened with the Holy Family:
This happened in a unique way between Mary and Joseph and Jesus. The Virgin and her husband, with their love, made a smile blossom on the lips of their newborn child. But when this happened, their hearts were filled with a new joy, from Heaven. And the little stable in Bethlehem was illuminated.
Jesus is Himself the smile of God, Francis said:
Jesus is the smile of God. He came to reveal to us the love of our Heavenly Father, His goodness, and the first way He did so was to smile at His parents, like every newborn child in this world. And they, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, because of their great faith, were able to accept that message, they recognized in Jesus’ smile God’s mercy for them and for all those who were waiting for His coming, the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel. Behold, dearly beloved, in the manger we too relive this experience: to look at the Child Jesus and feel that God is smiling at us there, and smiling at all the poor of the earth, at all those who await salvation, who hope for a more fraternal world, where there is no more war and violence, where every man and woman can live in his or her dignity as son and daughter of God.
The Holy Father concluded with his best wishes for Christmas, inviting us to enjoy the wonder of God’s gift:
So, dear friends, today let us exchange this wish: at Christmas, participating in the Liturgy, and also contemplating the manger, let us wonder at God’s smile, which Jesus came to bring. It is He Himself, this smile. Like Mary, like Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, let us welcome Him, let us allow ourselves to be purified, and we too can bring others a humble, simple smile.