On 14 October Pope Paul VI was canonized in a massive Eucharist, a man who during his pontificate faced many difficulties and misunderstandings. Today the Holy Church assumed the continuity of the Second Vatican Council after the death of its main inspiring, Pope John XXIII. At the canonization ceremony, His Holiness Francis referred to him as “prophet of an extroverted Church who looks to the distant and cares for the poor.” It is precisely From St Paul VI that we published the following homily, which he pronounced in the Solemnity of Christmas 1963.
Solemnity of Christmas, 25 December 1963
An instant, venerable brothers and dear children, an instant of reflection. The Feast of Christmas is so rich in lights, in feelings, in ideas, for reasons of reflection and study, that it is necessary, in this third celebration of divine sacrifice, to stop for a moment, given our interest in receiving the treasures that the Church, the liturgy, the evocation of the mysteries of the Lord, offer to our souls.
We ordinarily consider Christmas in its human appearance. Evangelical storytelling is sufficient to arouse in us a literary fascination; she’s so beautiful, charming and persuasive. The prodigious event can be reconstructed with all its human appeal, its poetry, its songs, its simple and wonderful paintings, so true, so eloquent, that our devotion has made the manger, rebuilding Christmas in our homes and families, in order to evoke what happened in Bethlehem. These are, however, human scenes, sensitive to Christmas, but they are not the only ones.
Behind these is another, immensely deep, mysterious, rich one that must attract not exactly our human eyes, but our spirit, our mind. It is the truer and most devoted aspect of Christmas; This third Mass presents this third Mass to us in a special way, and we could define it as the Theology of Christmas, with the divine glows that enclose in it.
The Mystery of the Incarnation
What’s behind the manger’s outside scene? The Incarnation, God who comes down to earth. This is the sublime reality; its simple etion is enough to ignite and nurture our meditation forever.
The first comment will be a simple and also rich word, so much so that it awakens in souls a fervent contemplation full of joy.
What is Christmas? It is the Incarnation, it is the coming of God to earth. This is: we can see God entering the scene of the world, how and why? Anyone who has a little sense of the reality around us, of the universe, is certainly admired for his immeasurable greatness, of the arcane science that has directed him. The laws reflected in this universe are so varied, complex and infallible that they offer us, yes, an image of the Creator, but an image that leaves us full of dismay and almost fear. These laws of the universe are so inexorable, so insensitive, so fatal, that sometimes they leave us unable to put at the apex, above them, a personal God, a God who feels, who speaks, who knows us, invited to dialogue precisely with the wonderful rules that regulate the created.
But there is a point in the complex of the great reality that we can know, and this point shines today in a special way, it is Christmas. In him God appears in his infinite charity: he shows Himself. In what way, in what way? In the power of power, in that of greatness, in that of beauty? No; the Lord has revealed Himself as love, as goodness. “God loved the world so much that He gave his only begotten Son.” The heart of the Almighty opens. Behind the scene of the manger is the infinite tenderness of the Creator he loves. In a word, there is infinite goodness. God, who loves us, wants to engage in dialogue with men, to establish relationships of familiarity with us. He wants us to invoke him as our Father; becomes our brother and wants to be our guest. It is the Holy Trinity that infuses its rays to those who have eyes to distinguish and the ability to understand and admire, in this way, the clear mystery of God.
Infinite longness of divine goodness
God’s goodness! God is good! This is the Christmas message; this is the subject of reflection that the Pope gives to the faithful. May they continually remember God’s goodness, and that each of us has been remembered and loved in Christ. Christ is the center that radiates the riches of the Lord’s benignity, and lightning, if we want to accept it, is reflected from Christ to us.
Each of us must feel today how he has been loved by God. God’s goodness is interested in all human creatures, and awakens, of rejection, an act of joy, joy, singing, gratitude. For this reason the hymn of glory to God is inexhaustible for his exalted goodness, for his infinite mercy.
But – it is the main and ineffable deduction – when we think we are loved, do we not feel that all our psychology is changed? A child if he discovers that his parents love him, grows in affectionate docility, and when one, in the course of his life, feels, realizes that someone wants him, straightens in that direction the path of his existence.
A similar transformation occurs in the spiritual realm. If we discover that we are loved by God, we find the precise orientation of our lives. How easy it is, then, for our worship to become a fiery piety and our religion to demonstrate an active charity, that it needs to expand, and that sacred duty ceases to be a daily yoke imposed on our souls, but a respite, a desire for effusions, the yearning to reach supreme dialogue with God, which, through Christ , asks, speaks, claims that he loves us!
The great joy of feeling loved by God
Driven by such a bright path it is also easy to improve our way of life, our customs. The epistle we read at the first of the Christmas Masses tells us, inferred from the Incarnation, the program of our pilgrimage: “Sober, justly and piously live, waiting for the blessed hope, and the glory of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”.
This is how we must live in Christian, if we have understood that the Lord loves us. And also, we who are so poor, selfish and afraid of losing the treasure of life and that someone else will take it from us, when we feel loved by God we become generous, and the prodigality of what little we have becomes almost instinctive. In a word: we are able to love others, to do good and to be charitable, because we have sensed the secret of God, which is charity. Therefore, having received his great and infinite gift, we will be ministers of charity and good. This is Christmas, this is the reflection that we all propose, with the joy and joy of knowing the richness of God’s goodness and knowing that He loves us. Ω