A Christless Christmas Is Senseless, Says Pope

Notes That Without God-Made-Man, It's an "Empty Holiday"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A Christmas celebrated without mention of the birth of Christ is an "empty holiday," said Benedict XVI in a meditation given during the final days of Advent.

"What sense does it make to celebrate Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man," the Pope asked today upon delivering a reflection on Christmas at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father began his address with a commentary on justice. "We all await justice," he said, but "the Christian significance of waiting for justice, implies that we begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, according to the criteria of the Judge."

Being vigilant during Advent, said the Pontiff, "means to live under the eyes of the Judge and to prepare ourselves and the world for justice. By living under the eyes of the God-Judge, we can open the world to the arrival of his Son, preparing our heart to welcome 'the Lord who comes.'"

Benedict XVI continued: "The Child, adored 2,000 years ago by the shepherds in a cave of Bethlehem, never stops visiting us in our daily life as we, like pilgrims, walk toward the Kingdom.

"As he waits, the believer becomes the spokesperson for the hopes of all humankind; humanity longs for justice, and thus, though often unaware, waits for God, waits for the salvation that only God can give us."

Come!

The wait "is marked by assiduous prayer," said the Pope, so that the arrival of the Son of God comes more quickly.

"This faith in the Creator Logos, in the Word that created the world, in the one who came like a Child, this faith and its great hope seem to be far from our daily public and private reality," the Pontiff lamented. "The world is becoming more chaotic and violent: We witness this every day. And the light of God, the light of Truth, is being put out. Life is becoming dark and without a compass."

"It is therefore very important that we are true believers, and as believers, that we reaffirm forcefully, with our lives, the mystery of salvation that comes with the celebration of Christ's birth," he said. "In Bethlehem, the Light which illumines our life was made manifest to the world; the Way which leads to the fullness of our humanity was revealed to us."

Best wishes

The Holy Father continued with various Christmas wishes: "We ask God that violence be defeated by the power of love, that opposition be replaced by reconciliation, that the desire to dominate be transformed into desires for forgiveness, justice and peace.

"May the wishes of kindness and love that we exchange in these days reach all sectors of our daily lives. May peace be in our hearts, so that we can be open to the action of God's mercy. May peace live in all families and may they spend Christmas united before the crib and the tree decorated with lights.

"May the Christmas message of solidarity and welcome contribute to create a deeper sensibility toward old and new types of poverty, and toward the common good that we are all called to share."

"May all family members," he added, "especially the children and the elderly -- the weakest ones -- feel the warmth of this feast, and may that warmth spread out through every day of the year. May Christmas be a celebration of peace and joy: joy for the birth of the Savior, Prince of peace."

"Like the shepherds," said the Holy Father, "we hasten our steps toward Bethlehem. In the heart of the Holy Night we will be able to contemplate the 'infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,' together with Mary and Joseph."