Pope Remembers Those Who Suffer at Christmas

Word of the Lord for "Life's Wounded," He Says

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI remembered people who will spend Christmas in the cross fire of war, especially in the Middle East and Africa, or in conditions of loneliness and poverty.



Christmas, when Christ enters the world to save humanity, "is a prophetic proclamation destined for the whole of humanity, in particular, the poorest, in this case, those who are poor in joy!" the Pope said.

The Holy Father made his comments today to the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to recite the Angelus.

He referred to the readings of this Sunday's liturgy, which call for joy, as "The Lord is at hand."

"This promise was fully realized in the mystery of Christmas, which we will celebrate within a week, and which it is necessary to renew in the 'today' of our lives and in history," Benedict XVI said, speaking from the window of his study.

He continued, "The joy awakened by the liturgy in the hearts of Christians is not reserved to them alone: It is a prophetic proclamation destined for the whole of humanity, in particular, the poorest, in this case, those who are poor in joy!"

The Pope mentioned in particular "our brothers and sisters who, especially in the Middle East, in some areas of Africa and in other parts of the world, live the tragedy of war."

"What joy can they experience? What will their Christmas be like?" he asked. "Let us think of all the sick and lonely people who, in addition to having physical suffering, suffer in the spirit, as often they feel abandoned. How can one share joy with them without lacking respect for their suffering?"

Artificial paradise

The Holy Father also invited his listeners to think of those, "especially young people, who have lost the sense of authentic joy, and who seek it in vain where it is impossible to find: in the exasperated race for self-affirmation and success, in false amusements, in consumerism, in moments of drunkenness, in the artificial paradise of drugs and of other forms of alienation."

"The Word of the Lord is addressed precisely to those who are being tested, to life's wounded and orphans of joy," assured the Pontiff. "The invitation to joy is not an alienating message, or a sterile palliative, but rather a prophecy of salvation, an appeal for rescue that starts with inner renewal."

The Holy Father concluded by inviting Christians to do all they can "with humility and courage so that the world will welcome Christ, who is the source of authentic joy."