Recognize the Child Jesus in All Children, Urges Pope

During Visit by Youths of Italian Catholic Action

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This Christmas, Benedict XVI urged that the Child Jesus be recognized in all children, whom he called the "joy of the Church" and "hope of the world."



The Pope suggested this today when receiving a traditional visit from youngsters of Italian Catholic Action, who came to the Vatican to express their best wishes for Christmas.

"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas is reflected in a certain sense in the wonder that every birth arouses and invites us to recognize the Child Jesus in all children, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world," the Holy Father told his young guests.

Benedict XVI continued: "Christmas is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God who came among us for everyone's salvation.

"The birth of Jesus is not a fable. It is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago. Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child, born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God who, out of love, chose to become man."

The Pope added: "In the face of the little Jesus, we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child.

"This 'Divine Child,' wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger with maternal care by his Mother, Mary, reveals all the goodness and infinite beauty of God. He demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us.

"For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem. Along with so many fathers and mothers who every day must make continuous sacrifices, along with the little ones, the sick, the poor we celebrate because with Jesus' birth the Father has responded to the desire for truth, forgiveness, and peace of our hearts."

Great love

"And he has responded with such enormous love that he astonishes us," the Holy Father said. "No one could have imagined it, if Jesus had not revealed it!

"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas is reflected in a certain sense in the wonder aroused by every birth and invites us to recognize the Child Jesus in all children, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world.

"The newborn who comes into the world in Bethlehem is the same Jesus who walked on the roads of Galilee, and who gave his life for us on the cross; it is the same Jesus who resurrected and, after his ascension to heaven, continues to guide his Church with the strength of his Spirit. This is the beautiful and great truth of our Christian faith!"

Addressing the youngsters of Catholic Action, the Pope assured them he "loves them," that he has confidence in them, and that he entrusts to them "today the task of being friends and witnesses of Jesus, who came to Bethlehem to be among us."

"Isn't it wonderful to make him increasingly known to your friends, in cities, in parishes, in your families?" he asked. "The Church needs you to be close to all children and youngsters."

Before taking leave of his guests, Benedict XVI added: "Give witness that Jesus does not take any of your joy away; rather, he makes you more human, truer, more beautiful."