Pontiff Urges All to Do Their Part

Says Self-interest Will Lead to World's Demise

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Without a little more solidarity and a little less selfishness, the world will "fall apart," says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this today in his Christmas message, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica before imparting the blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) and extending Christmas greetings in 64 languages.

Offering a meditation on the mystery of Christmas, the Holy Father called the celebration a "feast of light" that begins with a small glimmer in the night, which then spreads out "from a precise point in the universe: from the stable of Bethlehem, where the divine Child was born."

"Indeed, he is the light itself, which begins to radiate, as portrayed in so many paintings of the Nativity. He is the light whose appearance breaks through the gloom, dispels the darkness and enables us to understand the meaning and the value of our own lives and of all history," the Pontiff reflected."

Benedict XVI turned his attention to Mary and Joseph, "who that night welcomed the incarnate Word, awaiting it with love, along with the shepherds who kept watch over their flocks."

"A small community, in other words, which made haste to adore the Child Jesus; a tiny community which represents the Church and all people of good will," he added.

The Pontiff affirmed that even today there are many who await the Christ Child. He said they "seek him in their lives ... turn their hearts to him ... yearn to see his face and to contribute to the coming of his Kingdom."

The Pope called the Christmas message of one hope, and one that "is meant for all men and women."

"Jesus was born for everyone," he said, "and just as Mary, in Bethlehem, offered him to the shepherds, so on this day the Church presents him to all humanity, so that each person and every human situation may come to know the power of God's saving grace, which alone can transform evil into good, which alone can change human hearts, making them oases of peace."

Light in the darkness

"May the many people who continue to dwell in darkness and the shadow of death," the Holy Father continued, "come to know the power of God's saving grace! May the divine Light of Bethlehem radiate throughout the Holy Land, where the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians. May it spread throughout Lebanon, Iraq and the whole Middle East.

"May it bring forth rich fruit from the efforts of all those who, rather than resigning themselves to the twisted logic of conflict and violence, prefer instead the path of dialogue and negotiation as the means of resolving tensions within each country and finding just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region."

Benedict XVI expressed a desire that this light bring "transformation and renewal" and other areas such as Zimbabwe, which he said has been "trapped for all too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening."

The Pontiff also mentioned other troubled spots such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the war-torn region of Kivu, Darfur, in Sudan, and Somalia, "whose interminable sufferings are the tragic consequence of the lack of stability and peace."

"This light is awaited especially by the children living in those countries," he added, "and the children of all countries experiencing troubles, so that their future can once more be filled with hope."

He continued: "Wherever the dignity and rights of the human person are trampled upon; wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good; wherever fratricidal hatred and the exploitation of man by man risk being taken for granted; wherever internecine conflicts divide ethnic and social groups and disrupt peaceful coexistence; wherever terrorism continues to strike; wherever the basics needed for survival are lacking; wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations: in each of these places may the Light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity."

"If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart," the Holy Father affirmed.

Benedict XVI called the world one of "potential" and "frailty," and said that from it "there shines forth the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High and the son of the Virgin Mary."

"Let us go, then, brothers and sisters!" he urged. "Let us make haste, like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night. God has come to meet us; he has shown us his face, full of grace and mercy!

"May his coming to us not be in vain! Let us seek Jesus, let us be drawn to his light which dispels sadness and fear from every human heart. Let us draw near to him with confidence, and bow down in humility to adore him."