Benedict XVI: Christ Shared the Poor's Hardships

Pope Visited Missionary of Charity House in Vatican

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ROME, JAN. 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Referring to a favorite expression of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Benedict XVI says it is Christmas every time we allow Jesus to love others through us.

The Pope commented on this saying from the founder of the Missionaries of Charity when he visited the congregation's center for the poor in the Vatican on Jan. 4.

"For many years, when I was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I would spend several hours of the day near your praiseworthy institution, desired by my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, and entrusted by him to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta," Benedict XVI said. "Thus, I was able to appreciate the generous service of Gospel charity which the Missionaries of Charity have been carrying out for almost 20 years now with the help and collaboration of many people of good will."

The Holy Father reflected on Blessed Teresa's desire to call the house Gift of Mary, "hoping, as it were, that it might always be possible to experience in it the love of the Blessed Virgin."

"For anyone who knocks at the door, it is in fact a gift of Mary to feel welcomed by the loving arms of the sisters and volunteers," he said. "The presence of those who are ready to listen to people in difficulty and serve them with that very attitude which impelled Mary to go straightaway to St. Elizabeth is another gift of Mary.

"May this style of Gospel love always seal and distinguish your vocation so that, in addition to material aid, you may communicate to all whom you meet daily on your path that same passion for Christ and that shining 'smile of God' which enlivened Mother Teresa's life."

The Pontiff spoke about Christmas to the poor guests of the house, saying that Christ's birth in a stable "because there was no room for him elsewhere," meant that "Jesus experienced the hardships that many of you yourselves experience."

"Mother Teresa used to like to say: It is Christmas every time we allow Jesus to love others through us. Christmas is a mystery of love, the mystery of Love," the Pope said. "The Christmas season, re-presenting the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem for our contemplation, shows us the infinite goodness of God who, by making himself a child, desired to satisfy the needs of human poverty and loneliness; he accepted to dwell among us, sharing our daily difficulties; he did not hesitate to bear with us the burden of existence with its effort and anxiety.

"He was born for us in order to stay with us and to offer to each one who opens to him the door of his or her heart the gift of his joy, his peace, his love."