TO THE DELEGATIONS THAT OFFER THE CRIB
AND CHRISTMAS TREE IN PIAZZA SAN PIETRO
Friday, 11 December 2020
Dear brothers and sisters!
You have come for the official delivery of the Christmas tree and the crib placed in St. Peter's Square; I warmly welcome you and thank you for your presence. I greet the delegation from the Republic of Slovenia, led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, accompanied by Cardinal Rodé and the Archbishop of Maribor and made up of other Ministers, Ambassadors and distinguished personalities. In fact, Slovenia has donated the majestic spruce, chosen from the Kočevje woods.
And I greet the delegation from the Diocese of Teramo-Atri, with Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi and numerous civil authorities: the monumental ceramic nativity scene comes from your land, precisely from Castelli. This afternoon will take place the inauguration of both these "icons" of Christmas. Never like this year,
The tree and the crib help to create the favorable Christmas atmosphere for living with faith the mystery of the Birth of the Redeemer. In the crib, everything speaks of "good" poverty, evangelical poverty, which makes us blessed: contemplating the Holy Family and the various characters, we are attracted by their disarming humility. Our Lady and Saint Joseph came from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There is no room for them, not even a small room (cf. Lk 2: 7); Mary listens, observes and keeps everything in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19:51). Joseph looks for a place to adapt for her and the Child who is about to be born. The shepherds are protagonists in the crib, as in the Gospel. They live outdoors. They keep watch. The announcement of the Angels is for them, and they immediately go to seek the Savior who was born (cf. Lk 2.8-16).
The feast of Christmas reminds us that Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort. But, to welcome these gifts of grace, we need to feel small, poor and humble like the characters in the crib. Also on this Christmas, in the midst of the sufferings of the pandemic, Jesus, small and helpless, is the "Sign" that God gives to the world (cf. Lk 2:12). An admirable sign , as the Letter on the crib that I signed a year ago in Greccio begins . It will do us good to reread it these days.
Dear friends, heartfelt thanks to all of you! Also to those who could not be present today, as well as to those who collaborated in the transport and preparation of the tree and the crib. May the Lord reward you for your availability and generosity. I express my best wishes to you for a Christmas party full of hope, and I ask you to bring them to your families and to all your fellow citizens. I assure you of my prayers and I bless you. And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me. Merry Christmas! Thanks.