Posted December 26, 2011 in Advent and Christmas, and in The Pope's Corner:
The Grace of Christmas

by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly "God with us." No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation, and in our own consciousness.

He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: Lo, I am with you always, until the end of time (Mt 28:20).

For you the Savior is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the angel announced to the shepherds.

It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me.

Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on. I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there…

Awake, the Gospel tells us. Step outside so as to enter the great communal truth, the communion of the one God. To awake, then, means to develop a receptivity to God, a receptivity to the silent promptings with which he chooses to guide us, a receptivity to the many indications of his presence…

In every soul, the desire for God, the capacity to encounter him is present, whether in a hidden way or overtly….

The Lord himself is present in our midst. Lord, open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing you close to others as well.

From [the shepherds] we should learn not to be crushed by all the pressing matters in our daily lives. From them we can learn the inner freedom to put other tasks in second place—however important they may be—so as to make our way towards God, to allow him into our lives and into our time.

Time given to God and, in his name, to our neighbor is never time lost. It is the time when we are most truly alive, when we live our humanity to the full.

Most of us in the world today live far from Jesus Christ, the incarnate God who came to dwell amongst us. We live our lives by philosophies, amid worldly affairs and occupations that totally absorb us, and we are a great distance from the manger.

In all kinds of ways, God has to prod us and reach out to us again and again, so that we can manage to escape from the muddle of our thoughts and activities and discover the way that leads to him.

But a path exists for all of us. The Lord provides everyone with tailor-made signals.

He calls each one of us so that we too can say: "Come on, let’s go over to Bethlehem—to the God who has come to meet us."

Yes, indeed, God has set out towards us. Left to ourselves, we could not reach him. The path is too much for our strength.

But God has come down. He comes towards us. He has traveled the longer part of the journey. Now he invites us: come and see how much I love you. Come and see that I am here…..

Let us go there! Let us surpass ourselves! …

God’s sign is his humility. God’s sign is that he makes himself small. He becomes a child. He lets us touch him, and he asks for our love….

God comes to us as man, so that we might become truly human.

Excerpted from a Christmas homily, December 24, 2009



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