Dear brothers and sisters: In this holy season of Christmas, we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, who is God’s gift to us, our Saviour and the Light of the world. Without Jesus, there is no Christmas! Our traditional celebrations express our joy that God’s light shines in a world darkened by sin and injustice. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we too are called to seek and find Jesus, who comes to us in hiddenness and poverty. Sadly, despite the coming of the light many prefer to live in darkness. Yet those who receive the gift of Jesus come to know God’s saving grace and the promise of a new life, based no longer on selfishness but on self-giving love. Our tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is ultimately a sign of our gratitude for the gift of Jesus and our desire to share him with others. Christmas reminds us that God’s plan intersects with our history, and opens the way to a better future, a new world. This Christmas, may Jesus be born anew in each of us, so that by our lives, he may be a gift of salvation for all, especially the poor and those of our brothers and sisters who are most in need.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from the United States of America. May each of you, and your families, cherish the joy of this Christmas season, and draw near in prayer to the Prince of Peace who has come to dwell among us. God bless you all!