Christmas: ‘Be Enveloped by Closeness of God’

Audience with Members of Delegations That This Year Donated Manger and Christmas Tree

Be Enveloped by Closeness of God
© Vatican Media

“Let’s not have a fake Christmas, please, a commercial Christmas! Let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by the closeness of God ”, Pope Francis said.

Today, December 10, 2021, the Pope received in audience the members of the delegations that this year have donated the nativity scene and the Christmas tree that have been installed in Saint Peter’s Square and in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican.  In the afternoon, a small ceremony was be held in St. Peter’s Square to inaugurate the nativity scene and light the Christmas tree.

In his words, Francis thanked and welcomed the delegations of Peru, who have donated the manger for the Plaza de San Pedro; to the delegation from Trentino, in Italy, who have donated the Christmas tree and to the delegation from the parish of San Bartolomé in Gallio, in the diocese of Padua, Italy, who have donated the manger for the Paul VI Hall.

The universal call to salvation

Regarding the characters of the nativity scene, the Pontiff explained that they have been made with materials and clothing typical of those territories that “represent the peoples of the Andes and symbolize the universal call to salvation. Jesus came to earth in the concretion of a people to save all men and women, of all cultures and nationalities. He became small so that we could welcome him and receive the gift of God’s tenderness ”.

In the same way, His Holiness has referred to that tonight, “at the end of the official ceremony of delivery, the lights that decorate the tree will be turned on.” “It will remain with the nativity scene until the end of the Christmas season and will be admired by pilgrims from many places,” he adds.

The fir tree “is a sign of Christ”

The Holy Father indicates that the fir tree “is a sign of Christ, the tree of life, a tree to which man had no access because of sin (cf. Gen 2,9)” and adds that “with Christmas, divine life joins human life.” For this reason, the Christmas tree “evokes rebirth, the gift of God that binds man forever, who gives us his life. The lights of the fir tree recall that of Jesus, the light of love that continues to shine in the nights of the world ”.

Likewise, the Bishop of Rome points out the meaning of Christmas so as not to allow “it to become contaminated with consumerism and indifference. Its symbols, especially the manger and the decorated tree, return us to the certainty that fills our hearts with peace, to the joy of the Incarnation, to the God who becomes familiar: he lives with us, gives a rhythm of hope to our days “.

“Let’s not live a fake Christmas”

Regarding the tree and the manger, he emphasizes that “they introduce us to the typical Christmas atmosphere that is part of the heritage of our communities: an atmosphere of tenderness, sharing and family intimacy.” “Let’s not have a fake Christmas, please, a commercial Christmas! Let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by the closeness of God, that closeness that is compassionate, that is tender; enveloped by the Christmas atmosphere that art, music, songs, and traditions bring to the heart ”, he indicates.

Likewise, the Successor of Peter states that those who come to the Paul VI Hall in the next few days “will be able to savor this atmosphere also thanks to the nativity scene that will now be inaugurated” and is grateful for this gift, “the fruit of commitment and reflection on Christmas, the feast of trust and hope. The reason for hope is that God is with us, trusts us and never tires of us ”.

“And he never tires of forgiving: we are the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness. He comes to dwell with men, he chooses the earth as a dwelling place to be with us and assume the realities where we spend our days ”. This “is what the manger teaches us. At Christmas, God reveals himself not as the one who is on high to dominate, but as the one who comes down, small and poor, a companion on the journey, to serve: this means that in order to resemble Him, the path is that of abasement, the service ”, he concludes.