SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD'S CHRISTMAS
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Thursday, 24 December 2020
On this night the great prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: "A child is born for us, a son has been given to us" ( Is 9,5).
We have been given a son. It is often said that the greatest joy in life is the birth of a child. It is something extraordinary, which changes everything, sets in motion unexpected energies and overcomes fatigue, discomfort and sleepless wakefulness, because it brings great happiness, in front of which nothing seems to weigh. This is how Christmas is: the birth of Jesus is the novelty that allows us to be reborn within each year, to find in him the strength to face every trial. Yes, because his birth is for us: for me, for you, for all of us, for each one. For He is the word that returns on this holy night: "A child is born for us ", Isaiah prophesied; "Today the Savior is born for us ", we repeated the Psalm; Jesus "gave himself up for us»( Tit 2:14), St. Paul proclaimed; and the angel in the Gospel announced: "Today a Savior is born for you " ( Lk 2:11). For me, for you.
But what does this want to tell us for us ? That the Son of God, blessed by nature, comes to make us blessed children by grace. Yes, God comes into the world as a son to make us children of God. What a wonderful gift! Today God amazes us and says to each of us: “You are a marvel”. Sister, brother, don't lose heart. Are you tempted to feel wrong? God tells you: "No, you are my son!" You have the feeling of not making it, the fear of being inadequate, the fear of not getting out of the tunnelof the test? God tells you: “Courage, I'm with you”. He does not tell you in words, but by making himself a son like you and for you, to remind you of the starting point of each of your rebirths: recognizing yourself as the son of God, daughter of God. This is the starting point of any rebirth. This is the indestructible heart of our hope, the incandescent core that sustains existence: beneath our qualities and our defects, stronger than the wounds and failures of the past, the fears and anxiety for the future, c 'is this truth: we are beloved children. And God's love for us does not and will never depend on us: it is free love . This night finds no explanation elsewhere: only grace. Everything is grace. The gift is free, without the merit of each of us, pure grace. Tonight, Saint Paul told us, "the grace of God appeared" ( Tit 2:11). Nothing is more precious.
We have been given a son . The Father did not give us something, but his own only begotten Son, who is all his joy. Yet, if we look at man's ingratitude towards God and injustice towards so many of our brothers, a doubt arises: did the Lord do well to give us so much, is it right to still have faith in us? Don't you overestimate us? Yes, he overestimates us, and he does it because he loves us to death. He can't help but love us. He is like that, he is so different from us. He always loves us, more good than we manage to have for ourselves. It is his secret to enter our heart. God knows that the only way to save us, to heal ourselves inside, is to love us: there is no other way. He knows that we only improve by welcoming his tireless love, which does not change, but changes us. Only the love of Jesus transforms life, heals the deepest wounds, frees us from the vicious circles of dissatisfaction, anger and complaint.
We have been given a son . In the poor manger of a dark stable there is precisely the Son of God. Another question arises: why did he come to light in the night, without a worthy lodging, in poverty and rejection, when he deserved to be born as the greatest king in the most beautiful of buildings? Because? To make us understand how far our human condition loves: to the point of touching with his concrete loveour worst misery. The Son of God was born discarded to tell us that every discarded person is a child of God. He came into the world as a child comes into the world, weak and fragile, so that we can accept our frailties with tenderness. And to discover an important thing: as in Bethlehem, so also with us God loves to do great things through our poverty. He has put all our salvation in the manger of a stable and does not fear our poverty: let us allow his mercy to transform our miseries!
This is what it means that a child is born to us . But there is still a for , which the angel says to the shepherds: "This is the sign for you: a child lying in a manger" ( Lk 2:12). This sign, the Child in the manger, is also for us, to guide us in life. In Bethlehem, which means "House of bread", God is in a manger, as if to remind us that in order to live we need him as bread to eat. We need to allow ourselves to be crossed by his gratuitous, tireless, concrete love. How many times, instead, hungry for fun, success and worldliness, we feed life with foods that do not feed and leave the void inside! The Lord, through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, complained that, while the ox and the donkey know their manger, we, his people, do not know him, the source of our life (cf. Is 1,2-3). It is true: insatiable to have, we throw ourselves into many mangers of vanity , forgetting the manger in Bethlehem. That manger, poor in everything and rich in love, teaches that the nourishment of life is to let ourselves be loved by God and loved others. Jesus gives us the example: He, the Word of God, is an infant; he does not speak, but offers life. We, on the other hand, talk a lot, but we are often illiterate about goodness .
We have been given a son. Anyone with a small child knows how much love and patience it takes. It is necessary to feed it, take care of it, clean it, take care of its fragility and its needs, which are often difficult to understand. A child makes you feel loved, but it also teaches you to love. God was born a child to move us to care for others. Her tender weeping makes us understand how useless so many of our whims are; and we have so many! His disarmed and disarming love reminds us that the time we have does not serve to cry over us, but to console the tears of those who suffer. God takes up residence near us, poor and needy, to tell us that by serving the poor we will love Him. Since tonight, as a poet wrote, “God's residence is next to mine. Furniture is love »(E. Dickinson, Poems , XVII).
We have been given a son . It is You, Jesus, the Son who makes me a son. You love me as I am, not as I dream of being; I know it! Embracing You, Child of the manger, I embrace my life again. By welcoming you, Bread of life, I too want to give my life. You who save me, teach me to serve. You who do not leave me alone, help me to console your brothers, because you know from tonight they are all my brothers.