These beautiful reflections cut through the commercialization to the real heart of the holiday.
Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has shared some beautiful and profound reflections on Christmas and how we as Christians should live this special time of year.
Here, we revisit some quotes from the first three years of his papacy that can help us cut through the commercialization of this holiday to experience it “guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the ‘great light,’” so that “by opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.” (Midnight Mass, December 24, 2014)
1The manger represents God’s tenderness
“I invite you to pause before the Nativity scene, because the tenderness of God speaks to us there. There we contemplate divine mercy, which became human flesh and is able to soften our gaze.” (December 18, 2015)
2Jesus dedicated all his life to us; let us dedicate ours to other people
“Jesus did not simply appear on the earth, he did not dedicate a little of his time to us, but rather he came to share our life and to embrace our aspirations. Because he wanted, and still wants, to live here, together with us and for us. Our world, which at Christmas became his world, is close to his heart. The Nativity scene reminds us of this: God, in his great mercy, came down to us to remain with us forever.” (December 18, 2015)
3The love shown at Christmas doesn’t impose itself by force
“The Nativity scene also tells us that he never imposes himself with force. Remember this well, you children and young people: the Lord never imposes himself with force. To save us, he did not change history by performing an elaborate miracle. He came instead with total simplicity, humility and meekness. God does not like grandiose revolutions of history’s powerful, and he does not use a magic wand to change situations. Instead, he makes himself small, he becomes a child, so as to attract us with love, to touch our hearts with his humble goodness; to unsettle, with his poverty, those who scramble to accumulate the false treasures of this world.” (December 18, 2015)
4Christmas is light, it’s a path, beyond sentimentality and material gifts.
“Christmas Night (…) is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.” (December 24, 2013)
5This night, salvation comes for all people. (Titus 2:11)
“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.” (December 24, 2013)
6Those who are last, the humble, like the shepherds, received the Baby Jesus
“The shepherds were the first to see this ‘tent,’ to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. The pilgrim is bound by duty to keep watch and the shepherds did just that. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.” (December 24, 2013)
7There’s no room for fear. Christmas is renewed love that always overcomes the obstacles.
“To us the Lord repeats: ‘Do not be afraid!’ (Lk 2:10). As the angels said to the shepherds: ‘Do not be afraid!’ And I also repeat to all of you: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace. Amen.” (December 24, 2013)
8At Christmas, we need to recognize and embrace the problems of those around us.
“Do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today! The patience of God, the closeness of God, the tenderness of God.” (December 24, 2014)
9How do we welcome God’s tenderness?
“Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? ‘But I am searching for the Lord’ – we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?” (December 24, 2014)
10Goodness and meekness are necessary for an authentic Christmas.
“Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: ‘Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict.’” (December 24, 2014)