POPE FRANCIS ON THE INFANT JESUS
Dear friends, below you have the ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ General Audience address held Dec. 30, 2015 at St. Peter’s Square.
During his address, Pope Francis insisted that by contemplating the Infant Jesus, we come to understand more fully the meaning of his coming among us. Like every baby, the Infant Jesus cries out for our attention; he asks us to care for and protect him. Like every baby, he wants us to smile at him, as a sign of our delight in him and our sharing in the mystery of his love. Finally, he wants us to play with him, to enter into his world and to become like a child ourselves, in order to please him. In these days of Christmas, let us not only gaze upon the Child Jesus, but also take him into our arms and allow him to give us the joy and freedom born of the Father’s merciful love.
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***ADDRESS STARTS HERE. CAPS AND BOLD LETTERS MINE****
Brothers and sisters, good morning!
In these days of Christmas, we are placed before the Child Jesus. I am sure that in our homes still many families have done their mangers, carrying on this fine tradition which dates back to St. Francis of Assisi and that keeps alive, in our hearts, the mystery of God Who becomes man.
The devotion to the Child Jesus is very widespread. Many saints have cultivated it in their daily prayer, and they wanted to model their lives on that of the Child Jesus. I am thinking in particular of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took the name of Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She – who is also a Doctor of the Church – has been able to live and witness that ‘”spiritual childhood” which assimilates really in meditating, in the school of the Virgin Mary, the humility of God who, for our sake, became a child. And this is a great mystery, God is humble! It is we who are proud, filled with vanity and we believe ourselves to be something great, [but] we are nothing! He, the great, is humble and is made a child. This is a real mystery! God is humble. This is beautiful!
There was a time when, in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have its own special meaning for our faith. It is true that His death on the Cross and His Resurrection are the ultimate expression of His redeeming love, but do not forget that all His earthly life is revelation and teaching. During the Christmas season, we remember His childhood. TO GROW IN FAITH, WE NEED TO CONTEMPLATE BABY JESUS MORE OFTEN. Certainly, we do not know anything much about this period. The few indications we possess, refer to the imposition of the name after eight days after His birth and the presentation in the Temple (cf. Lk 2.21 to 28); and also the visit of the Magi with the consequent flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2.1 to 23). Then, there is a big jump up to when he is twelve years old, when Mary and Joseph go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover, and instead of returning with His parents in the Temple, he stops to talk to the doctors of the law.
AS YOU SEE, WE KNOW LITTLE OF THE CHILD JESUS, BUT WE CAN LEARN A LOT FROM HIM IF WE LOOK AT THE LIVES OF CHILDREN. IT IS A GOOD HABIT THAT PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, HAVE, TO LOOK AT CHILDREN, WHAT THEY DO.
We find out, first of all, that CHILDREN WANT OUR ATTENTION. THEY must be the focus, why? Because they are proud? No! BECAUSE THEY NEED TO FEEL PROTECTED. AND IT IS NECESSARY FOR US TO PUT JESUS AT THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES AND TO KNOW, EVEN IF IT COULD SEEM PARADOXICAL, THAT WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT HIM. HE WISHES TO BE IN OUR ARMS, WISHES TO BE CARED FOR AND TO BE ABLE TO FIX HIS GAZE ON US. ALSO, MAKE BABY JESUS SMILE BY DEMONSTRATING TO HIM OUR LOVE AND JOY BECAUSE HE IS IN OUR MIDST. HIS SMILE IS A SIGN OF LOVE THAT GIVES US THE CERTAINTY OF BEING LOVED. Children, finally, love to play. To play with a child, however, means abandoning our logic to enter theirs. If we want that they have fun, you need to understand what pleases them, and not be selfish and make them do things that we like. It is a teaching for us. BEFORE JESUS, WE ARE CALLED TO GIVE UP OUR PRETENSE OF AUTONOMY – and this is the core of the problem: our pretense of autonomy -, TO WELCOME INSTEAD THE TRUE FORM OF FREEDOM, WHICH CONSISTS IN KNOWING WHO WE HAVE IN FRONT OF US AND SERVING HIM. He, this child, is the Son of God who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father, which is rich in love and mercy. HOLD, THEN, THE CHILD JESUS IN OUR ARMS, PUTTING OURSELVES AT HIS SERVICE: HE IS THE SOURCE OF LOVE AND SERENITY. It will be a good thing, today, when we go home, go near the crib and kiss the Baby Jesus and say, “JESUS, I WANT TO BE HUMBLE LIKE YOU, HUMBLE LIKE GOD,” AND ASK HIM FOR THIS GRACE.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]