24 février 2024

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Christmas Night Mass: Pope invites to follow the “God of the incarnation” and not the “God of performance”

During the Christmas Eve Mass, celebrated this Sunday, December 24 at Saint Peter's in Rome, Pope Francis entered in a wheelchair.

During the Christmas Eve Mass, celebrated this Sunday, December 24 at Saint Peter’s in Rome, Pope Francis entered in a wheelchair.

A sign of physical weakness to which the Pope has consented since the use of his wheelchair, and a sign of humility which contrasts with the image of power associated with the Pope.

It is this type of contrast that Pope Francis himself invited us to reflect on this Christmas Eve, during the midnight mass celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and illuminated at the very moment when a singer had announced, according to tradition, the birth of Christ.

In his homily delivered before 6,500 faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Basilica and 6,000 in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled how Jesus is not a God of performance nor of unlimited power, but who immerses himself in our limits and weaknesses. “Our heart, this evening, is in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is still rejected by the losing logic of war, with the clash of arms which, even today, prevents him from finding a place in the world “, affirmed Pope Francis.

Pope Francis invited the faithful to worship a God who “inhabits our injustices”, contrary to the image of a “rigid and powerful” God. “Our heart this evening is in Bethlehem,” he also said, in a clear allusion to the war between Israel and Hamas.

“God does not use a magic wand, He is not the commercial god of “everything and immediately”… there, says Pope Francis, is the false image of a detached and touchy God, who behaves well with good people and gets angry with bad people; “a god made in our image, useful only to solve our problems and remove our evils”. On the contrary, “He does not use a magic wand, He is not the commercial god of “everything and immediately”; he does not save us by pressing a button, but rather comes close to change reality from within,” added the Sovereign Pontiff, deploring this worldly idea of a distant and controlling god, rigid and powerful, who helps the his own to prevail over others as many believe.

The Pope urges us to turn to the “living and true God”, who is beyond all human calculation and yet allows himself to be counted by our counting; towards Him who revolutionizes history by inhabiting it; towards Him who respects us to the point of allowing us to reject Him. “He so desires to embrace our existence that, infinite, he becomes finite for us; big, it becomes small; just, he inhabits our injustices,” noted Pope Francis. This, according to him, is the wonder of Christmas: “Not a mixture of sentimental affections and worldly comforts, but the unprecedented tenderness of God who saves the world by becoming incarnate. Let us look at the Child, let us look at his manger, let us look at the manger, which the angels call “the sign”.

“For God who changed history during the census, you are not a number, but a face; your name is inscribed in his heart”, underlined Pope Francis, speaking to the hollow of each person’s heart: “Looking at your heart, your performances which are not up to par, the world which judges and does not forgive, perhaps you are having a bad time this Christmas, thinking that you are not doing well, harboring a feeling of inadequacy and dissatisfaction because of your weaknesses, your falls and your problems”.

A response to this lies in adoration, like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, then the wise men. “Worship is the way to welcome the incarnation.” “Let us rediscover worship, because to worship is not to waste our time, but to allow God to inhabit our time. It is making the seed of the incarnation flourish in us, it is collaborating in the work of the Lord who changes the world like leaven. It’s interceding, repairing, allowing God to put history right.”

The Pope concludes by quoting the great Christian author Tolkien: “I offer you the only great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find charm, glory, honor, loyalty and the true path of all your loves on earth” (J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter n. 43, March 1941).

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