31st December

Centre-stage to Christmas is the Baby Jesus. This is what Pope Francis had baby-jesusto say yesterday about honouring this manifestation of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’.

Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this year’s final general audience to the widespread devotion to the Baby Jesus, which is keenly felt during these days. This tradition, he explained, can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi and “keeps alive in our hearts the mystery of God made man”. He also mentioned St. Therese of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took on the name of Therese of the Child Jesus and “knew how to live and bear witness to that humility of God Who made Himself small for us”.

“There was a time when in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have a special meaning for our faith. It is true that His death on the Cross and His resurrection are the greatest expression of His redeeming love, but let us not forget that all His earthly life is revelation and teaching. In the Christmas period we remember His infancy. To grow in faith we need to contemplate the Baby Jesus more often. … We know little of Jesus as a child, but we can learn much about Him if we look at the life of children”.

“We discover, first of all, that children want our attention”, continued the Holy Father. “Why do they wish to be at the centre of attention? Because they like to show off? No! Because they need to feel protected. We too need to place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, although it may seem paradoxical, that we have the responsibility of protecting Him … and of making the Baby Jesus smile to show Him our love and our joy that He is in our midst.”.

Francis also emphasised that children love to play, and commented that playing with a child means setting aside our logic as adults and entering into that of a child. “If we want the child to have fun, we must understand what he likes, without being selfish and making them do things that we like instead. This is a teaching for us. Before Jesus we are called upon to abandon our claims to autonomy, to instead welcome Him and serve Him. He, a child, is the Son of God, Who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father, full of love and mercy. Let us therefore hold the Baby Jesus in our arms and put ourselves in His service: He is the source of love and serenity”.

 

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