Pope Francis reflects on the birth of Christ at the weekly General Audience, and encourages us to welcome everything that God sends us, since He loves us and desires what is best for us.
By Devin Watkins
As the Church celebrates the Octave—eight days—of Christmas, Pope Francis focused his catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience on the mystery of Christ’s birth.
He drew inspiration from St. Francis de Sales on the 400th anniversary of the death of the Doctor of the Church.
The Pope also announced that he is publishing an Apostolic Letter on Wednesday dedicated to the French-born Saint and entitled “Everything Belongs to Love”.
In his catechesis, the Pope reflected on Jesus’ humble birth in a stable in Bethlehem, where His mother Mary laid Him in a manger, basically a trough out of which animals eat.
He said the Evangelist Luke stresses this fact, meaning it is a sign for all humanity.
Pope Francis noted that this detail fully reveals God’s “closeness, compassion, and tenderness”.
God, he said, seeks to draw us to Himself with love and tenderness, rather than “impose His truth and justice upon us.”
Love is the key to the way God wishes to attract us, continued the Pope.
Sweetness and harshness
Another notable aspect of the manger, said Pope Francis, is “poverty, understood as the renunciation of all worldly vanity.”
Referring to St. Francis de Sales, he noted that the manger teaches us “the perfect renunciation of all goods”, since such a rough baby bed combines both “tenderness and austerity, love and sorrow, sweetness and harshness”.
God’s love is not sickly sweet, as the manger poignantly shows, noted Pope Francis.
Welcoming everything in love
In conclusion, Pope Francis said Christ’s birth in such simple surroundings invites each of us to welcome both the pleasant and less-than-pleasant things that God sends us.
We should seek, he said, to “desire nothing and reject nothing, to accept everything that God sends us” and to do so “always and only out of love, because God loves us and only ever wants our good.”