Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 22, 2008
Economic crisis can help renew meaning of Christmas, says pope
Christmas: 'recover simplicity, friendship, solidarity'
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - The economic crisis could help people rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and the values of life, love and charity, Pope Benedict said.
After the "consumerist and materialistic scales have been shed, Christmas can then become an occasion to accept as a personal gift the message of hope that comes from the mystery of Christ's birth," he said Dec. 17.
While the economic crisis is causing suffering in many parts of the world, it can also help people focus on the significance of Christmas, he said.
"Under the pressure of hedonistic consumerism, Christmas unfortunately risks losing its spiritual significance and becoming a merely commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts," said the pope at his general audience.
However, he said, the current economic crisis and the financial insecurity and difficulties many families are experiencing should prompt people "to rediscover the warmth of simplicity, friendship and solidarity - the typical values of Christmas."
Word became flesh
With Christ's birth, the word became flesh, he said. God has become a tangible, concrete person whom we can touch and contemplate and who "knows us, calls us and guides us," said the pope.
As Christians contemplate the birth of Christ in a lowly grotto, "how can we not think about the many children who, still today, are born into enormous poverty in many parts of the world?" asked the pope.
The birth of a child should be a joyous event that stirs up feelings of kindness, concern and tenderness, he said.
But, the pope said, there are also children who are not welcomed into this world and are rejected.
People must not forget the many infants who are unable to survive after they are born because of a lack of medical attention, he said.
The miracle and mystery of Christ's birth should also bring to mind the many families who long for "the joy of having a child and do not see their hopes fulfilled," he added.
In the Christ Child, God humbly knocks on people's doors to offer meaning in their lives and the free gift of salvation.
God manifested himself as a poor, humble infant in order to conquer human pride and sin, he said.
"Perhaps we would have surrendered more easily before power or wisdom, but God doesn't want our surrender. Rather, he makes an appeal to our hearts and our free will to accept his love" freely, without coercion, said the pope.
He asked the faithful to welcome Christmas as an opportunity to truly renew their lives, to focus less on themselves and pay attention to the needs and hopes of others.
At the end of the audience, the pope encouraged people to create a Nativity scene in their homes, saying the tradition is "a simple and eloquent way to remember Jesus who, becoming man, has come to dwell among us."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.