“Truly there are too many tears this Christmas,” proclaimed Pope Francis during his Christmas address today in St. Peter’s Square to an audience of tens of thousands, and some 2 billion worldwide by television. As I ponder his words at the end of a very happy day, as my kids sleep warmly in their beds, I join my silent prayers with Pope Francis for the millions of people around the globe, especially the children in so many places – and not all of them so far away from us – who long for some spark of hope, the warmth of love and belonging, and who find none.
Here are the closing paragraphs of Pope Francis’s “Ubi et Orbi” message:
May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers. May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week. May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided.
Infant Jesus, my thoughts go to all those children who today are killed and maltreated, both those who suffer this way before they see the light , deprived of the generous love of their parents and buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life, and those who are displaced by reason of wars and persecutions, abused and exploited before our eyes, and those children massacred under bombs, also there where the Son of God was born. Still today their silent impotence cries (to us) under the sword of many Herods. Over their blood stands today the shadow of the modern-day Herods.
Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth. May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery. May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference. May his redeeming strength transform arms into plowshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness. Then we will be able to cry out with joy: “Our eyes have seen your salvation.”
And from my family to yours, with gratitude for this online community of friendship and support, Merry Christmas! May the Christ Child find us ready to receive him and bring his spirit of peace, presence, and kindness to all we meet!