This morning, Pope Francis offered the customary Christmas Urbi et Orbi address (“to the city and the world”), offering prayers for peace, healing, and reconciliation for the people of countries facing crises and hardships throughout the world. Reporting for Catholic News Service, Cindy Wooden reports:
“Jesus came into the world “like a whisper, like the murmur of a gentle breeze, to fill with wonder the heart of every man and woman who is open to this mystery,” the pope said in his Christmas message.
“The Word became flesh in order to dialogue with us,” he insisted. “God does not desire to carry on a monologue, but a dialogue. For God himself—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is dialogue, an eternal and infinite communion of love and life.”
But all too often in too many places, dialogue is precisely what is missing, he said, as he offered specific prayers for people struggling to survive amid war or the threat of war, violence, oppression or crushing poverty in Syria, the Holy Land, Yemen, South Sudan, Ukraine, Myanmar and Ethiopia.”
He also spoke about the Americas in his address, albeit more generally. As an American, it seems clear to me that this reference applies to the ongoing political, social, and religious polarization we face in the United States. It also brings to mind the plight of people on the move on this continent: people fleeing violence or poverty, asylum seekers, climate refugees, and people seeking dignified work. His call for mutual respect is especially relevant to our situation, given the damage caused by ongoing racial and ethnic discrimination.
Pope Francis offers prayers for victims of violence and abuse, for those in need of medical care and for vaccine access, he prays for political prisoners and refugees, he prays for families to have serenity and unity.
Here is the conclusion of the address, picking up from his reference to the Americas:
Grant that, through dialogue, mutual respect and recognition of the rights and cultural values of every human being, the values of solidarity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence may prevail in the hearts of the peoples of the Americas.
Son of God, comfort the victims of violence against women, which has increased in this time of pandemic. Offer hope to young children and adolescents suffering from bullying and abuse. Show consolation and warmth to the elderly, especially those who feel most alone. Give serenity and unity to families, the first educators of their children and the basis of the fabric of society.
God-with-us, grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects. Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most. Repay those who generously devote themselves to caring for family members, the sick and the most vulnerable in our midst.
Child of Bethlehem, grant that the many military and civilian prisoners of war and recent conflicts, and all those imprisoned for political reasons, may soon return home. Do not leave us indifferent before the tragic situation of migrants, displaced persons and refugees. Their eyes beg us not to look the other way, ignoring our common humanity, but instead to make their stories our own and to be mindful of their plight.
Eternal Word become flesh, make us attentive to our common home, which is suffering from the carelessness with which we so often treat it. Inspire political leaders to reach effective agreements, so that future generations can live in an environment respectful of life.
Dear brothers and sisters, amid all the many problems of our time, hope prevails, “for to us a child is born” (Is 9:6). He is the word of God, who became an infant, capable only of crying, and in need of help for everything. He wished to learn how to speak, like every other child, so that we might learn to listen to God, our Father, to listen to one another and to dialogue as brothers and sisters.
O Christ, born for our sake, teach us to walk beside you on the paths of peace.
Happy Christmas to all!
Once again, he brings forth the image of the baby Jesus, “the word of God, who became an infant, capable only of crying, and in need of help for everything.”
May all of you place your hope in this tiny infant. Merry Christmas to all!
As a bit of a Christmas treat, take a look at how festive Gareth Thomas’s donkeys look!
Here is Aitana, who was ill recently but is recovering and spending the day out in the Sun. She’d best not overdo it with the Christmas candy this year!
Aitana today with mother Matilde:
Here is a 2011 photo of the whole gang (My understanding is that Santa needed them to help pull his sleigh that year because Donner and Dancer were feeling under the weather):
Images: Pope Francis pic — Vatican News. Donkey pics courtesy of Gareth Thomas, Where Peter Is contributor and dad to four donkeys
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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.