There’s No Entry Fee: Pope Francis on Christmas

By David Mills Published on December 26, 2017

A selection from Pope Francis’s insights on Christmas, taken mostly from his homilies on the day.

God Came to Tell Us He is Here

The feast of Christmas is a resounding reminder of the history and revelation of God who came to tell us that he is here, as it says so beautifully in the book of Revelation: He “stand[s] at the door and knocks.” He is at the door of your heart, calling on you. …

On this holy night you are invited to ask yourself how you can meet Jesus, whether you are ready to meet Jesus, or whether you let yourself be carried along by life as it were all just a game. No, Jesus is knocking at your heart; Jesus is telling you the same thing that the angel told the shepherds: a Redeemer has been born to you. He simply asks you to listen — or rather, he asks you to seek him. …

The Massacred Infants

May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children. …

The Child Jesus. My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence.

I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.

— From Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi message 2014

Do you know how to seek? Do you lower yourself to find him, or do you get dizzy from the thousand and one attractions of this pagan city? (Because this really is a pagan city.) There’s no entry fee to meet Jesus. If you want to, simply enter.

— From then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s homily on Christmas Eve, preached in Buenos Aires in 2010 and published in Encountering Christ.

Not Simply a Teacher or an Ideal

In Jesus was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.

— From Pope Francis’s homily for Christmas 2013

Jesus is the Day That Has Dawned

Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity.

A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people.

                             — From Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi message 2015

Let Jesus  Call You From Your Emptiness

The great trap that is set of us by our self-sufficiency is to believe that we are something by ourselves — the trap of not sensing our own marginalization.  … No one can say that he himself is not marginalized. Open your heart, look within, and ask yourself: In what ways am I marginalized? How do I cut myself off from love, from peace, from mutual collaboration, from solidarity, from feeling myself to be a social being? …

The Angel Speaks to Pagans, Sinners, Foreigners

Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship. The One who in his poverty and humility proclaims and shows that true power and authentic freedom are shown in honoring and assisting the weak and the frail.

That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News.

By reason of their work, they were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their state of life, and the places they had to stay, prevented them from observing all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification; as a result, they were considered unclean. Their skin, their clothing, their smell, their way of speaking, their origin, all betrayed them.

Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared. They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. Yet to them – pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

— From Pope Francis’s homily for Christmas 2017

Close to the crib, then, do two things: first, feel yourself invited to the beauty of humility, of meekness, of simplicity; and second, seek within your heart the ways in which you are on the outside, marginalized, and let Jesus call you from your emptiness, your limitations, your egoism. Let yourself be caressed by God, and you will understand better what simplicity, meekness, and unity are.

— From then-Cardinal Begoglio’s homily for Christmas, preached in Buenos Aires in 2011, published in Encountering Christ

The Important Question

Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord” — we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?

— From Pope Francis’s homily for Christmas 2014

Let the Child Speak

So when we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. … This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for Him and His family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals.

And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, His disciples, as Saint Paul says, “to reject godless ways” and the richness of the world, in order to live “temperately, justly and devoutly.”

In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly. In other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.

— From Pope Francis’s homily for Christmas 2015

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