Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Catechesis - Christmas: the surprises that God likes
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In six days it will be Christmas. Trees, decorations and lights everywhere remember that this year will be a party. The advertising machine invites to exchange always new gifts to be surprised. But I ask myself: is this the party that pleases God? Which Christmas would He like, what gifts, what surprises?
Let's look at the first Christmas of history to discover the tastes of God. That first Christmas of History was full of surprises. We start with Mary, who was the bride of Joseph: the angel arrives and changes her life. From a virgin she will be a mother. It continues with Giuseppe, called to be the father of a child without generating it. A son who - a twist - arrives at the least indicated moment, that is when Mary and Joseph were promised spouses and according to the Law they could not cohabit. Faced with the scandal, the good sense of the time invited Joseph to reject Mary and save his good name, but he, who had the right, is surprising: not to harm Maria thinks to dismiss her in secret, at the cost of losing his reputation . Then another surprise: God in a dream changes his plans and asks him to take Mary with him. Born Jesus, when he had his plans for the family, still in a dream he was told to get up and go to Egypt. In short, Christmas brings unexpected changes of life. And if we want to live Christmas, we must open our hearts and be ready for surprises, that is, an unexpected change of life.
But it is Christmas night that comes the biggest surprise: the Altissimo is a small child. The divine Word is an infant, which literally means "unable to speak". And the divine word became "unable to speak". There are no time or place authorities or ambassadors to welcome the Savior: no; they are simple shepherds who, surprised by the angels while working at night, rush without delay. Who would have expected it? Christmas is celebrating the unpublished God, or rather, celebrating an unpublished God, which overturns our logic and our expectations.
To do Christmas, then, is to welcome the surprises of Heaven on earth. You can not live "earth earth", when Heaven has brought its news into the world. Christmas inaugurates a new era, where life is not planned, but gives itself; where one no longer lives for himself, according to his own tastes, but for God; and with God, because from Christmas God is the God-with-us, who lives with us, who walks with us. To live Christmas is to be shaken by its surprising novelty. The Christmas of Jesus does not offer reassuring warmth of the fireplace, but the divine shiver that shakes the story. Christmas is the revenge of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over hubbub, of prayer over "my time", of God over my "I".
To do Christmas is to do like Jesus, come to those in need, and go down to those who need us. It is like Mary: trusting, docile to God, even without understanding what He will do. To do Christmas is to do like Joseph: to get up to achieve what God wants, even if it is not according to our plans. St. Joseph is surprising: in the Gospel he never speaks: there is not a word, of Joseph, in the Gospel; and the Lord speaks to him in silence, speaks to him in his sleep. Christmas is to prefer the silent voice of God to the noise of consumerism. If we can be silent in front of the crib, Christmas will be a surprise for us, not something already seen. Be silent in front of the crib: this is the invitation, for Christmas. Take some time, go in front of the crib and keep quiet. And you'll hear, you'll see the surprise.
Unfortunately, however, one can mistake party, and prefer the usual things of the earth to the news of Heaven. If Christmas is just a nice traditional party, where we and we are at the center, it will be a lost opportunity. Please do not let us mate Christmas! Let us not set aside the feast, as it was then, when "he came among his own, and his own did not welcome him" (Jn 1,11). Since the first Gospel of Advent, the Lord has warned us, asking not to weigh ourselves down in "dissipations" and "troubles of life" (Lk 21,34). These days we run, perhaps as never during the year. But this is the opposite of what Jesus wants. We blame the many things that fill the days, the world that goes fast. Yet Jesus did not blame the world, he asked us not to be dragged, to watch at any moment praying (see verse 36).
Behold, it will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we will give space to silence; if, like Mary, we say "here I am" to God; if, like Jesus, we will be close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we will leave our enclosures to be with Jesus. It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor cave of Bethlehem. It will not be Christmas if we look for the shimmering glow of the world, if we fill ourselves with presents, lunches and dinners but we will not help at least a poor man, who looks like God, because at Christmas God came poor.
Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Christmas full of the surprises of Jesus! They may seem uncomfortable surprises, but they are God's tastes. If we marry them, we will make ourselves a wonderful surprise. Each of us has hidden the ability to surprise in our hearts. Let us be surprised by Jesus on this Christmas.
Greetings in Various in Languages:
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier les jeunes de Draguignan. Je souhaite à tous un bon Noël, riche des surprises de Jésus ! Avec l’aide de Marie et de Joseph, Puissions-nous les accueillir, et ainsi faire nôtres les goûts de Dieu et nous laisser surprendre par eux. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Australia, the Philippines and the United States of America. My particular greeting goes to Japanese pilgrims accompanied by Cardinal Thomas Manyo Maeda, and to the children’s dance team from Ukraine. In these last days before Christmas, I invoke upon all of you, and your families, the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache, insbesondere an die Gruppe der Tiroler Schützen mit ihrem Bischof Hermann Glettler aus Innsbruck. Der Heilige Geist möge uns helfen, den weihnachtlichen Frieden und die Liebe Christi zu den Männern und Frauen unserer Zeit zu bringen.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española provenientes de España y América Latina. Le pedimos a la Virgen María que nos ayude a contemplar en silencio el misterio del Nacimiento de su Hijo, para que hagamos realidad en nuestras vidas su ejemplo de humildad, pobreza y amor. Les deseo una feliz Navidad. Muchas gracias.
Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, saúdo-vos a todos com votos dum Santo Natal, portador das consolações e graças do Deus Menino, para vós e vossa família. E sê-lo-á certamente, se a vossa família souber colocá-Lo, a Ele e à sua Lei, no centro da vida, tornando-se uma escola de fé, de oração, de humanidade e de verdadeira alegria. De coração vos abençoo a todos, desejando-vos um sereno e feliz Ano Novo.
أرحّب بالحجّاج الناطقين باللغة العربيّة، وخاصة بالقادمين من سوريا ومن لبنان ومن الشرق الأوسط. كي نحيا عيد الميلاد علينا أن نحول قلوبنا إلى مغارة بالمحبة، وبتوتنا إلى مذود بالصلاة، وشوارعنا إلى وحات بعمل الخير. ليعلمن الطفل الإلهي أن ننظر إلى السماء بعيونه، وأن ننظر إليه بقلب مريم وبصمت يوسف المصلي. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!
[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dalla Siria, dal Libano e dal Medio Oriente. Per vivere il Natale dobbiamo trasformare: con l'amore, i nostri cuori in presepe; con la preghiera, le nostre case in mangiatoia; e con il bene, le nostre strade in oasi. Il Bambino Divino ci insegni a guardare al cielo con i suoi occhi e a guardarLo con il cuore di Maria e con il silenzio orante di San Giuseppe. Il Signore vi benedica e vi protegga dal maligno!]Serdecznie witam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, życzę wam szczęśliwego Bożego Narodzenia, pełnego pokoju, miłości i pogody ducha, jakie przynosi nam Pan zrodzony między nami. Przeżywanie tajemnicy wcielonego Słowa niech wam pomoże przyjmować niespodzianki i wyzwania, przez które Jezus wzywa nas, byśmy wyszli z zagród naszej wygody, aby być z Nim i z tymi, których On kocha. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!
* * *
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I am pleased to welcome the parish groups, in particular those of Collevecchio and Alvito and the guests of the Caritas of the Diocese of Albano, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Marcello Semeraro.
I greet the National Association of civilian victims of war; the Scout Group of Jesolo and Ca 'Savio; the Italian National Amputati; the delegation of the Municipality of Bolsena; the Paralympic Sports Group of the Defense and the Educational Institutes, in particular those of San Benedetto del Tronto and Bitonto.
A particular thought I address to the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds.
The birth of the Lord Jesus is imminent. The feast that we will celebrate again this year, on the Holy Night of his Christmas, reawaken in us the tenderness of God for all humanity, when, in Jesus, he did not disdain to assume, without any reserve, our human nature. Let us entrust ourselves to Mary and to Joseph, so that they may teach us to welcome such a great gift: Emmanuel, God with us.