Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
“God was born a child in order to encourage us to care for others” Pope Francis said in his homily. With Italy under a new lockdown for the holidays, Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Mass “during the Night” in a near empty Saint Peter’s Basilica on Thursday evening.
The Mass was celebrated privately with just 200 people attending, given social distancing requirements. The livestreaming was followed by millions of people around the world.
Francis focused his homily for Christmas Eve Mass on a passage in the biblical book of Isaiah that says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
Pope Francis reflected on the image of a child and the “love and patience” they require, he said children transmit love, but they “can also teach us how to love.”
“His birth is for us”
Pope Francis, in his homily, said the birth of Jesus brings with it a new beginning “it enables us to be reborn each year and to find, in him, the strength needed to face every trial.”
“Are you tempted to feel you were a mistake? God tells you, ‘No, you are my child!’ Do you have a feeling of failure or inadequacy, the fear that you will never emerge from the dark tunnel of trial? God says to you, ‘Have courage, I am with you.’ He does this not in words, but by making himself a child with you and for you,” the pope said.
Pope Francis’s decision to focus his homily on the image of a child comes as no surprise. During his Papacy, Pope Bergoglio always voiced his worries on issues related to children and youth.
“To us” a Son is given
God’s Christmas gift to us is not merely a thing or an object. Instead, Pope Francis said, God gave His Son “Who is all His joy.”
Still, the Pope continued, “The Son of God was born an outcast, to tell us that every outcast is a child of God. He came into the world as each child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love. And to discover something important,” he said, adding, God loves to work wonders through our poverty.”
Teaching us how to love
“God came among us in poverty and need, to tell us that in serving the poor, we will show our love for Him”, the Pope said.
The Pope concluded the homily with a prayer to baby Jesus: “Jesus, you are the Child who makes me a child. You love me as I am, not as I imagine myself to be. In embracing you, the Child of the manger, I once more embrace my life. In welcoming you, the Bread of life, I too desire to give my life. You, my Saviour, teach me to serve. You who did not leave me alone, help me to comfort your brothers and sisters, for, from this night forward, all are my brothers and sisters.”
A message of tenderness was also passed locally by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna during the midnight mass celebrated at Mdina.