Merry Christmas for all our readers from the team at Novena! We’d like to take the opportunity to thank you all once again for reading us, and to wish you all a very happy, special and blessed time with your loved ones.
As a meditation for this evening, as we celebrate that night 2,000 years ago when the arrival of a tiny baby changed the course of world history, we offer you this selection of tweets of Pope Francis over the course of this Advent.
Tweets, as everyone knows, have the potential to be little pearls of wisdom, perfect for our deficit of attention in the social media age.
One tweet of the Pope stuck out for us:
“In these days before Christmas we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation, for the gratuitousness of life, for everything he gives us for free. Everything is grace.”
And we cannot but second Francis’ prayer, which we share with you, our readers:
“May Holy Christmas be a fraternal time for everyone, one of growth in the faith and of actions of solidarity toward those who are in need.”
In the Gospel of the day, Jesus exhorts us to be ready for His coming: “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42). To watch means to have your heart ready to give and to serve, to be attentive to our neighbour in difficulty.
The word Advent means coming. The Lord is coming. This is the root of our hope: the certainty that God’s consolation comes to us amidst the troubles of the world. Not a consolation of words, but of His presence among us.
With this Letter, I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares.
The closeness to the Lord invites our heart to approach our brothers and sisters with love, to show compassion towards everyone.
Today we renew our commitment so that every disabled person may share their gifts with the community to which they belong and in which they take part.
Today the Church praises smallness. God’s works begin by sprouting from a seed, from little things. Jesus speaks about this smallness of the Kingdom: the small heart, humble, that is open to the revelation of the Lord.
Let us pray for all the pastors of the Church, that they might guide the flock entrusted to them with the same firmness and tenderness of the Good Shepherd.
Today the Church praises stability. “Trust in the Lord forever, because the Lord is an eternal Rock” (Isa 26:4). Those who trust in the Lord will always be safe, because their foundations are sunk into the Rock.
Prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.
The true worship of God is always expressed in love of one’s neighbour.
May the feast of our Mother Mary Immaculate help us to make our whole life a “yes” to God, a “yes” composed of adoration of Him and of daily gestures of love and service.
Corruption undermines the dignity of the person and shatters all good and beautiful ideals. All of society is called upon to make a concrete commitment to combat the cancer of corruption which, with the illusion of quick and easy profits, in reality impoverishes everyone.
The human person is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at any stage of his or her development. If this conviction falls, there is no solid and permanent foundation for the defense of Human Rights.
May Our Lady of Loreto help us to walk the path of peace and fraternity based on acceptance and forgiveness, respect for others, and on love; may she grant families the blessing of life; and may she bring help and comfort to those in need.
“Like a shepherd He feeds His flock, in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care” (Is 40:11), so the Lord comforts us.
Let us ask the Lord, in this time of Advent, to revive in us faith in Christ who comes to save us, to help us be always faithful to our vocation as missionary disciples.
Today in the world many Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith. Martyrdom is the breath of the life of a Christian, of a Christian community. There will always be martyrs among us: this is the sign that we are following the way of Jesus.
When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace.
The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves: What is the great desire of my heart? It is God Himself who puts this “thirst” in our hearts. And He comes to meet us by this route, wherever there is hunger and thirst for peace, hunger and thirst for justice, freedom and love.
Thank you for accompanying me on this anniversary. I continue asking for the support of your prayer.
Faith gives us the ability to look with hope at the events of life, and helps us to accept even defeats and sufferings, in the knowledge that evil never has the last word.
May the Virgin Mary help us so that, as we approach Christmas, we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by external things, but make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and to give us his joy.
There are two attitudes typical of lukewarm Christians: putting God in a corner – either you do this for me or I won’t go to Church anymore – and washing our hands of those in need. Let us get rid of these attitudes to make space for the Lord who is coming.
Every conversion comes from a previous experience of mercy, from God’s tenderness that captures the heart.
Our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration can be summed up in four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. If we put them into practice, we will help build the city of God and man.
I thank those people everywhere who have sent me their congratulations and good wishes for my fiftieth ordination anniversary and for my birthday. I thank you in a particular way for the gift of your prayers.
In these days before Christmas we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation, for the gratuitousness of life, for everything he gives us for free. Everything is grace.
I decided to display this life jacket, “crucified”, to remind everyone of the essential commitment to save every human life, because the life of every person is precious in the eyes of God. The Lord will hold us to account for this at the moment of judgment.
Let us give thanks for all the good there is in the world, for the many people who dedicate themselves freely, for those who spend their lives in service, to build a more humane and just society. We know: alone we cannot save ourselves.
Trust in dialogue between individuals and between nations, in multilateralism, in the role of the international organizations, and in diplomacy as an instrument for appreciation and understanding, is indispensable for the building of a peaceful world.
Jesus is the smile of God. He came to reveal to us the love and goodness of our heavenly Father. We need God’s smile to strip us of our false certainties, and to bring us back to enjoying simplicity and gratuitousness.
We need always to let ourselves be renewed by the smile of the Baby Jesus. Let His disarming goodness purify us from the waste that often encrusts our hearts.
The Gospel of the Day (Mt 1, 18-24) guides us towards Christmas through Joseph’s experience. His example helps us to listen to the coming Jesus, who asks us to include Him in our plans and in our choices.
In three days’ time it will be Christmas and my thoughts go especially to families, who are reunited in these festive days. May Holy Christmas be a fraternal time for everyone, one of growth in the faith and of actions of solidarity toward those who are in need.
The nativity scene reminds us that God did not remain invisible in heaven, but came down to earth and became man. To set up a nativity scene is to celebrate the closeness of God, to rediscover that God is real, concrete; He is humble Love that came down to us.
The nativity scene is like a living Gospel: it brings the Gospel into homes, schools, workplaces and meeting spaces, hospitals and nursing homes, prisons and town squares.
I hope that setting up a nativity scene may be an opportunity for you to invite Jesus into your life. Because if He inhabits it, life is reborn. And it really is Christmas.