Christmas is more than a ‘temporal celebration,’ Pope reflects

Vatican City, Dec 2, 2013 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily on the first Monday of Advent, Pope Francis reflected on the season of Christmas, explaining that it is a time to encounter the Lord in faith, and allow him to renew our lives.

Christmas, the Pope expressed in his Dec. 2 homily, “isn’t just a temporal celebration or the memory of a beautiful (event); Christmas is more…Christmas is an encounter!”

Pope Francis directed his words to those who were present for his daily Mass inside of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

As we progress through the season of Advent, “we go by this road to meet the Lord,” the Pope stated, “we walk to meet him,” to “encounter him with the heart, with life; encounter him alive, as He is; encounter him with faith.”

Turning to the day's Gospel reading in which the centurion comes to Jesus asking him to heal his servant only by “saying the word,” Pope Francis noted that “it is not easy to live with faith,” emphasizing how in the Gospel the Lord “marveled at this centurion: he marveled at the faith that he had.”

“He had walked to meet the Lord, but he did so with faith. For this reason he not only encountered the Lord, but he felt the joy of being met by the Lord.”

“And this,” the pontiff pointed out, “is precisely the encounter that we want: the encounter of faith.”

When it is only us who seek an encounter with Christ, continued the Pope, “we are – in quotation marks, let's say – the masters of this meeting,” but on the contrary, when we allow him to encounter us “and it is he himself who enters us…it is he that re-makes us all over again.”

This renewal is the fruit of letting Christ encounter us, the Pope explained, “because this is the coming, this is what it means when Christ comes: to make everything new.”

Jesus, he said, re-makes “the heart, the soul, life, hope,” and “our path,” adding that “We are on a journey of faith, with the faith of that centurion, to meet the Lord and mainly to let him encounter us!”

The pontiff then stressed the importance of having an open heart in order for this encounter to take place, explaining that it is also crucial to be open to what the Lord wants to tell us, noting that “what he wants to tell me,” is often not “what I want him to tell me!”

However, the Pope observed, “He is the Lord,” and what he tells us is meant for each of us personally, because “the Lord does not look at everyone together, like a mass. No, no!”

“He looks everyone in the face, in the eyes, because love is not abstract: love is concrete!”

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis emphasized that this love is “from person to person: the Lord, a person, looks at me, a person.”

“Letting ourselves be encountered by God means just this,” he stated, “to let ourselves be loved by the Lord!”

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