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Monday, January 2, 2017

0506: Reflections on the Second Sunday of
Christmas by Pope Francis

Entry 0506: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Christmas    
 by Pope Francis 

On three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Second Sunday of Christmas, on 5 January 2014, 4 January 2015, and 3 January 2016. Here are the texts of the three reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus that the Pope delivered on these occasions.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 5 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Once again, the Liturgy this Sunday sets before us, in the Prologue of the Gospel of St John, the most profound significance of the Birth of Jesus. He is the Word of God who became man and pitched his “tent,” his dwelling, among men. The Evangelist writes: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). These words, that never cease to amaze us, contain the whole of Christianity! God became mortal, fragile like us, he shared in our human condition, except for sin, but he took ours upon himself, as though they were his own. He entered into our history, he became fully God-with-us! The birth of Jesus, then, shows us that God wanted to unite himself to every man and every woman, to every one of us, to communicate to us his life and his joy.

Thus, God is God-with-us, God who loves us, God who walks with us. This is the message of Christmas: the Word became flesh. Thus, Christmas reveals to us the immense love that God has for humanity. From this too derives our enthusiasm, our hope as Christians, that in our poverty we may know that we are loved, that we have been visited, that we are accompanied by God; and we look upon the world and on history as a place in which we walk together with Him and among us toward a new heaven and a new earth. With the Birth of Jesus, a new promise is born, a new world comes into being, but also a world that can be ever renewed. God is always present to stir up new men, to purify the world of the sin that makes it grow old, from the sin that corrupts it. However much human history and the personal story of each of us may be marked by difficulty and weakness, faith in the Incarnation tells us that God is in solidarity with mankind and with human history. This closeness of God to man, to every man and woman, to each one of us, is a gift that never fades! He is with us! He is God-with-us! Behold the glad tidings of Christmas: the divine light that filled the hearts of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, and guided the footsteps of the shepherds and the Magi, shines today too for us.

In the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God there is also an aspect that is connected to human freedom, to the freedom of each one of us. Indeed, the Word of God pitched his tent among us, sinners who are in need of mercy. And we all must hasten to receive the grace that he offers us. Instead, the Gospel of St John continues, “his own people received him not” (v. 11). We reject him too many times, we prefer to remain closed in our errors and the anxiety of our sins. But Jesus does not desist and never ceases to offer himself and his grace which saves us! Jesus is patient, Jesus knows how to wait, he waits for us always. This is a message of hope, a message of salvation, ancient and ever new. And we are called to witness with joy to this message of the Gospel of life, to the Gospel of light, of hope and of love. For Jesus’ message is this: life, light, hope and love.

May Mary, the Mother of God and our tender Mother, support us always, that we may remain faithful to our Christian vocation and be able to realize the aspiration for justice and peace that we carry within us at the start of this new year.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 4 January 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The new year has given us a nice Sunday! A beautiful day!

St John says in the Gospel that we read today: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world” (1:4-5, 9). Men speak much of light, but they often prefer the deceptive tranquility of darkness. We speak a lot about peace, but we often turn to war or choose the complicity of silence, or do nothing concrete to build peace. In fact St John says that “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11); for “this is the judgment, that the light—Jesus—has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn 3:19-20). This is what St John says in the Gospel. The heart of man may reject the light and prefer the shadows, because light lays bare his evil deeds. Those who do evil hate light. Those who do evil hate peace.

A few days ago, we began the new year in the name of the Mother of God, by celebrating the World Day of Peace, with the theme: “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters.” My hope is that man’s exploitation of man may be overcome. This kind of exploitation is a social plague which demeans interpersonal relationships and impedes a life of communion based on respect, justice and charity. Every man and every people hungers and thirsts for peace; building peace is therefore an urgent necessity!

Peace is not simply the absence of war, but a general condition in which the human person is in harmony with him/herself, in harmony with nature and in harmony with others. This is peace. Nevertheless, silencing weapons and extinguishing the hotbeds of war is an inevitable condition to begin a journey that leads to peace in its various aspects. I think of the wars that still cause bloodshed in too many regions of the planet, of the tensions in families and in communities—but in many families, in many communities, in parishes too, there is war!—as well as heated disputes in our cities and towns between groups of different ethnic, cultural and religious extraction. We must convince ourselves, despite every appearance to the contrary, that harmony is always possible, on every level and in every situation. There is no future without proposals and plans for peace! There is no future without peace!

In the Old Testament, God made a promise. The Prophet Isaiah said: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn the art of war any more” (see Is 2:4). This is beautiful! Peace is proclaimed, as a special gift of God, in the birth of the Redeemer: “on earth peace among men whom God loves” (see Lk 2:14). This gift needs to be ceaselessly implored in prayer. Let us recall, here in the Square, that sign: “Prayer is at the root of peace.” This gift must be implored and must be welcomed with commitment every day, in whatever situation we are in. At the dawn of this new year, we are all called to rekindle in our heart an impulse of hope, which must be translated into concrete works of peace. “Are you in disaccord with this person? Make peace!” “At home? Make peace!” “In your community? Make peace!” “At your place of work? Make peace!” Work for peace, for reconciliation and fraternity. Each of us must perform gestures of fraternity toward our neighbour, especially toward those who are tried by family tensions or various types of conflict. These small gestures are of so much value: they can be seeds which give hope, they can open paths and perspectives of peace.

Let us now invoke Mary, Queen of Peace. During her life on earth, she met many difficulties, related to the daily toils of life. But she never lost peace of heart, the fruit of faithful abandonment to God’s mercy. Let us ask Mary, our gentle Mother, to show the entire world the sure way of love and peace.



Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Sunday!

The Liturgy today, the Second Sunday after Christmas, presents us the Prologue of the Gospel of St John, in which it is proclaimed that “the Word”—that is, the creative Word of God—“became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). In other words, that Word, which dwells in heaven in the dimension of God, came upon the earth so that we should hear it and we could know and physically touch the Love of the Father. The Word of God is his Only Begotten Son, having become man, full of love and devotion (see Jn 1:14); it is Jesus himself.

The Evangelist does not hide the dramatic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, emphasizing that the gift of God’s love is marked by mankind’s failure to receive it. The Word is the light, yet mankind preferred darkness; the Word came among his own, but they received him not (see vv. 9-10). They closed the door in the face of God’s Son. It is the mystery of evil that undermines our life too, and it requires vigilance and attention on our part so that it does not prevail. The Book of Genesis offers a nice phrase that lets us understand this: it says that sin is “couching at the door” (see 4:7). Woe to us should we let it enter; lest sin would close our door to anyone else. Instead we are called to open wide the door of our heart to the Word of God, to Jesus, in order to become his children in this way.

On Christmas Day this solemn beginning of the Gospel of John was proclaimed; today it is offered to us once again. It is the invitation of the Holy Mother Church to welcome this Word of salvation, this mystery of light. If we welcome him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in the knowledge and the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful like him. Particularly in this Holy Year of Mercy, let us allow the Gospel to become ever more incarnate in our lives as well. Approaching the Gospel, contemplating it, and embodying it in daily life is the best way to come to know Jesus and to bring him to others. This is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: to reveal and give Jesus to others; but in order to do this we must know him and bear him within us, as the Lord of our life. He protects us from the evil one, from the devil, who is always lurking at our door, at our heart, and wants to get in.

With a renewed impetus of filial abandon, let us entrust ourselves once again to Mary: may we contemplate her gentle image as the Mother of Jesus and our Mother in the nativity scene during these days. 

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For reflections on the Second Sunday of Christmas 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

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