Love, joy and generosity are what this most delightful time of the year brings when forgiveness and reconciliation – along with compassion and mercy – bind humanity as the world celebrates the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Amid all the misery, violence and pain all around, the Pope urges everyone not to despair. "Evil will not triumph forever, there is an end to pain. Despair is defeated because God is among us,” he said.
Of all Christmas joys, one stands out. “The most beautiful joy of Christmas is that inner joy of peace: The Lord has blotted out my sins, the Lord has forgiven me, the Lord has mercy on me, He came to save me. That is the joy of Christmas,” Pope Francis told a general audience at the Vatican.
“God is able to overcome the greatest sin, the most shameful, the most terrible, the worst of sins,” the Pope assured. “With what weapon does God overcome sin? With love!”
“When everything seems finished, when, in the face of so many negative realities, faith becomes difficult and the temptation comes to say that nothing has meaning anymore, see instead the Good News: God is coming to realize something new, to establish a kingdom of peace,” Pope Francis said.
He encouraged people to open up to God’s power: “Christmas is a day to open the heart: It is necessary to open one’s heart to so much littleness, which is there in that Baby… Enclosed in a newly-born child, needy of everything, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger, is the whole power of the God that saves… It is the wonder of Christmas… of a Child God, of a poor God, of a weak God, of a God who abandons His greatness to make himself close to each one of us.”
Despite all the suffering and hardships in this world, the message of Christmas as proclaimed in the Gospel is a message of joy, Pope Francis explained. The very first Christmas more than 2,000 years ago “was not a condemnation of social injustice and poverty; it was an announcement of joy.”
“Christmas is joy, religious joy, God’s joy, an inner joy of light and peace,” he stressed.
Christmas can be joyful no matter what, according to Pope Francis. “When you are unable or in a human situation that does not allow you to comprehend this joy, then one experiences this feast with a worldly joyfulness. But there is a difference between profound joy and worldly joyfulness,” he explained.
“Christian joy, like hope, is founded on God's fidelity, on the certainty that He always keeps his promises,” the Pope said. “This true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy because it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in Him.”
For children, Christmas also means Santa Claus giving good kids some toys and other gifts. History’s most famous editorial appeared in the Sept. 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun featuring a letter of Virginia O’Hanlon who wrote: Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Famed editor Francis Pharcellus Church responded: Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see… Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
May we all find inner joy in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas everyone!