Pope: God Teaches Us to Love the Vulnerable

Presides at Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- By coming a child, God taught us to love the youngest among us and the weak, Benedict XVI said in his Christmas Midnight Mass homily.



"The Child of Bethlehem directs our gaze toward all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn," the Pope said at the Mass he presided over in St. Peter's Basilica.

"God teaches us to love the little ones," the Holy Father said. "In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children."

The Mass was broadcast by 84 television stations in 47 countries.

The Pontiff turned his attention "toward children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; toward children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; toward children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us.

"Let us pray this night that the brightness of God's love may enfold all these children."

Benedict XVI exhorted: "Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life."

Our neighbor

With the birth of Jesus, God "is no longer distant. He is no longer unknown," the Pope continued. "He is no longer beyond the reach of our heart.

"He has become a child for us, and in so doing he has dispelled all doubt. He has become our neighbor, restoring in this way the image of man, whom we often find so hard to love. For us, God has become a gift. He has given himself. He has entered time for us. He who is the Eternal One, above time, he has assumed our time and raised it to himself on high."

The Pope said that "Among the many gifts that we buy and receive" at Christmas, "let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God."

At the Midnight Mass the Prayers of the Faithful were said in German, Portuguese, Arabic, Pilipino, Polish and French.

In Arabia, the Holy Father prayed that all those who link themselves with the faith of Abraham live "the spirit of dialogue, mutually understanding and collaboration, in order to create works of peaceful coexistence among peoples."