This morning in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis met with children from the Italian youth group Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action). The children exchanged Christmas greetings with the Pope, who encouraged them always to be “living stones united with Jesus” within the Church.
The Vatican Information Service released the Holy Father’s remarks to the children:
“Christmas is the celebration of the presence of God who came among us to save us”, said the Pontiff. “The birth of Jesus is not a fairytale! It is the story of a real event, which occurred in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.
Faith allows us to recognize in the Child born to the Virgin Mary the true Son of God, made man for our love. In the face of the child Jesus we contemplate the face of God, who did not show Himself to us in strength, in power, but in the weakness and fragility of a newborn. This is our God, who comes so close to us, as a child. This Child shows the trust and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each one of us.
This is why we celebrate Christmas, reliving the same experience of the shepherds of Bethlehem. Along with many fathers and mothers who work hard every day, making many sacrifices; along with the young, the sick and the poor, we celebrate, because it is the celebration of our encounter with God in Jesus”.
Pope Francis then asked the children whether they knew how much Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend. “If you are convinced of this,” he said,
“…you will certainly be able to transmit the joy of this friendship everywhere: at home, in Church, at school, with friends…and for your enemies, pray that they might be closer to God. And in this way you will be able to bear witness, like true Christians: ready to lend a hand to those in need…and also to those who don’t like you…without judging others, without speaking badly of them.
Those who speak ill of others are not good…because gossiping is not Christian…and we should not do it”.