Pope Benedict XVI's
2008 Christmas message:
"Dear brothers and sisters,
As we approach the great feast of
Christmas, the liturgy encourages us to intensify our preparation placing
at our disposal numerous biblical texts from the Old and the New
Testaments which serve to motivate us to focus on the significance and
value of this annual celebration.
On the one hand, Christmas is a
commemoration of the incredible miracle of the birth of God's only son,
born of the Virgin Mary, in a cave in Bethlehem. On the other hand,
Christmas exhorts us to keep watch and pray waiting for our Redeemer who
will come 'to judge the living and the dead.'
Perhaps we today, even we believers,
truly await the Judge. We all await justice. We see so much injustice in
the world, in our small world, at home, in our neighborhoods, as well as
in the large world of states, of societies. And we wait for justice to be
Justice is an abstract concept. We await
the coming of the very one who can effect justice. In this context
we pray, 'Come, Lord, Jesus Christ, as judge, come as you must.' The Lord
knows how to enter the world and bring justice.
We ask the Lord, the Judge, to respond,
to truly effect justice in the world. We await justice, but our
demands with respect to others cannot be the only expression of this
waiting. The Christian significance of waiting for justice implies that we
begin to live under the eyes of the Judge according to the criteria of the
Judge; that we begin to live in his presence rendering justice in our
lives. By being just, putting ourselves in the presence of the Judge, we
This is the meaning of Advent, of
vigilance. The vigilance of Advent means to live under the eyes of the
Judge and to prepare ourselves and the world for justice. By living
under the eyes of the God-Judge, we can open the world to the arrival of
His Son, preparing our heart to welcome 'the Lord who comes.'
The Child, adored 2,000 years ago by the
shepherds in a cave in Bethlehem, never stops visiting us in our daily
life, as we, like pilgrims, walk toward the Kingdom. As He waits,
the believer becomes the spokesperson for the hopes of all
humankind. Humanity longs for justice; and thus, though often
unaware, waits for God, waits for the salvation that only God can give us.
For us Christians, the wait is marked by
assiduous prayer as indicated by the particularly evocative series of
invocations that are proposed to us in these days of the Christmas novena,
in the Mass, in the Gospel, and in the celebration of vespers, before the
canticle of the Magnificat. Each appeal that implores the coming of
Wisdom, the Sun of Justice, and God-With-Us, contains a prayer directed to
the Awaited one of the nations so that His arrival be hastened.
To invoke the gift of the birth of the
promised Savior also means to commit myself to prepare the way, to prepare
a worthy home not only in the environment around us, but above all in our
souls. With the guidance of the Evangelist John, we try to turn our
thoughts and hearts to the eternal Word, to the Logos, to the Word that
has become flesh and has given us grace after grace (cf. 1:14,16).
This faith in the Creator Logos, in the
Word that created the world, in the one who came like a Child, this faith
and its great hope seem to be far from our daily public and private
reality. It seems this truth is too great. We manage the best
we can so it seems at least. But the world is becoming more chaotic
and violent. We witness this every day. And the light of God,
the light of Truth, is put out. Life becomes dark and without a
It is therefore very important that we
are true believers, and as believers, that we reaffirm forcefully, with
our lives, the mystery of salvation that comes with the celebration of
Christ's birth. In Bethlehem, the Light which illumines our life was
made manifest to the world. The Way which leads to the fullness of
our humanity was revealed to us. What sense does it make to celebrate
Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man? The
celebration becomes empty.
Before all else, we Christians have to
reassert with deep and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's birth in
order to bear witness before all, the awareness of an unparalleled gift
that enriches not only us, but everyone.
The duty of evangelization is to convey
this eu-angelion, the good news. This was recalled by the
document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith entitled Doctrinal
Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization which I would like to offer for
your reflection and personal as well as communal study.
Dear friends, in these days of
preparation leading up to Christmas, the prayer of the Church intensifies
so that the hopes for peace, salvation, justice, and all that the world
urgently needs, be made a reality. We ask God that violence be defeated by
the power of love, that opposition be replaced by reconciliation, that the
desire to dominate be transformed into desires for forgiveness, justice,
May the wishes of kindness and love that
we exchange in these days reach all sectors of our daily lives. May peace
be in our hearts so that we can be open to the action of God's mercy. May
peace live in all families, and may they spend Christmas united before the
crib and the tree decorated with lights. May the Christmas message
of solidarity and welcome contribute to create a deeper sensibility toward
old and new types of poverty and toward the common good that we are all
called to share.
May all family members, especially the
children and the elderly, the weakest ones, feel the warmth of this feast,
and may that warmth spread out through every day of the year. May
Christmas be a celebration of peace and joy, joy for the birth of the
Savior, the Prince of Peace. Like the shepherds, we hasten our steps
toward Bethlehem. In the heart of the Holy Night, we will be able to
contemplate the 'infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a
manger', together with Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:12,16).
We ask the Lord to open our soul so that
we can enter the mystery of his birth. May Mary, who gave her
virginal womb to the Word of God, who contemplated the child between her
arms, and who offers Him to everyone as the Redeemer of the world, help us
make Christmas a moment of growth in the knowledge and love of Christ.
This is the wish that I warmly extend to you all, to your families. and
your dear ones.
Merry Christmas to you all!"