The joy we receive from Christ’s birth has the power to counteract doubt and indifference, in a world that is “merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin,” Pope Francis said during Midnight Mass for Christmas.
“Joy and gladness are a sure sign that the message contained in the mystery of this night is truly from God,” the Pope said in his Dec. 24 homily for Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“There is no room for doubt; let us leave that to the skeptics who, by looking to reason alone, never find the truth. There is no room for the indifference which reigns in the hearts of those unable to love for fear of losing something.”
Pope Francis went on to observe how Christ, born in the poverty of a stable, teaches us to reject worldly riches amid a consumerist and hedonistic society, as a “culture of indifference.”
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Before the liturgy began in Saint Peter's Basilica, there was the chanting of “Kalenda” — a traditional chant recounting the events leading up to Christ’s birth. After this, the Holy Father unveiled and prayed before a small statue of the Child Jesus which laid in front of the main altar above St. Peter’s tomb.
The statue, which itself rested upon a stand holding the Scriptures as a symbol of the Word Made Flesh, was then venerated with flowers by a group of children from around the world. Each child represented one of the countries visited by the Pope during 2015, such as the Philippines, Kenya, Cuba, and the United States.
“All sadness has been banished, for the Child Jesus brings true comfort to every heart,” Pope Francis continued in his homily, reflecting on the readings for the Mass.
“Everything changes” with the birth of the Son of God, who partakes in our human nature, he said.
We are no longer “alone and forsaken,” he explained, adding that the Virgin Mary offers her Son to us “as the beginning of a new life.”
“The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end.”
Putting away “all fear and dread,” Pope Francis said we must not remain idle, but go out to see “our Savior lying in a manger” in Bethlehem.
Having heard of Christ’s birth, we should be “silent and let the Child speak,” for he brings us “unending peace of heart” and teaches us what is truly important in our lives, the Pope said.
He recalled how Jesus was born into poverty, having to find shelter in a stable where he was placed in a manger.
“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.”
Pope Francis concluded by inviting the faithful to follow the example of the shepherds at Bethlehem and, like them, “with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God.”