Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday 25 December 2011, The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Pope's Three Christmas Wishes

    On December 7, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI turned
on the lights for the Vatican's Christmas tree.  Referencing the
tree and its lights, he expressed his Christmas wishes.

    "My first wish... is that our gaze, that of our minds and our
hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on its material
things, but that in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be
directed toward God.  God never forgets us but He also asks that
we don't forget Him.

    The Gospel recounts that, on the holy night of Christ's birth,
a light enveloped the shepherds, announcing a great joy to them:
the birth of Jesus, the one who brings us light, or better, the One
who is the true light that illuminates all....

    My second wish is that we recall that we also need a light to
illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this
time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of 
problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded
in a veil of darkness.

But what light can truly illuminate our hearts and give us a firm and
sure hope?  It is the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a
poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near
to each of us and asks that we receive Him anew in our lives, asks us
to want Him, to trust in Him, to feel His presence, that He is 
accompanying us, sustaining us, and helping us.

    But this great tree is formed of many lights.  My final wish is that
each of us contribute something of that light to the spheres in which we
live:  our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. 
That each of us be a light for those who are at our sides; that we leave 
aside the selfishness that, so often, closes our hearts and leads us to think
only of ourselves; that we may pay greater attention to others, that we
may love them more.  Any small gesture of goodness is  like one of the
lights of this great tree:  together with other lights it illuminates 
the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night."

                    -- Vatican Information Service
                        9 December 2011

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
                                                          -- Isaiah 9: 1

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