Pope Francis reflected on the manger as Jesus' closeness, poverty, and concreteness in his homily at Christmas midnight mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening.
The Pope reflected on the importance of the manger that the Evangelist Luke mentioned three times in the space of only a few verses.
"What then does the manger tell us? It tells us three things, at least: closeness, poverty, and concreteness," Pope Francis said.
The Pope reflected the manger as God's closeness to humans by starting his reflection on humans' "greed for consuming."
As a feeding trough, the manger might represent humanity's "greed for consuming," according to Pope Francis.
"While animals feed in their stalls, men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbors, their brothers, and sisters," the Pope noted.
He decried the spread of wars and injustice and its impact on human dignity and freedom, particularly children's.
The Pope continued that God's Son is first deposited in that "manger of rejection and resistance," making God present in even the darkest human conditions.
"There, in that manger, Christ is born, and there we discover His closeness to us. He comes there, to a feeding trough, in order to become our food,"
He added that God is near to our misery and loneliness.
"The Christmas manger, the first message of the divine Child, tells us that God is with us; He loves us, and He seeks us," Pope Francis assured.
He stated that Jesus wanted to rescue us from evil and sin and invited all to renew one's faith because Christmas means God is near.
Pope Francis reflected on the second message of "poverty" expressed in the manger, which had little around it other than love.
"The poverty of the manger shows us where the true riches in life are to be found: not in money and power, but in relationships and persons," he highlighted.
The Pope added that Jesus is our greatest wealth when we learn to love and serve the world's poor.
"It is not easy to leave the comfortable warmth of worldliness to embrace the stark beauty of the grotto of Bethlehem, but let us remember that it is not truly Christmas without the poor," Pope Francis said.
He added that one could celebrate Christmas without the poor but not the birth of Jesus.
The Pope reminded, "at Christmas, God is poor: let charity be reborn!"
The Pope reflected on the third message of "concreteness" seen in Jesus lying in a manger.
The Pope stressed that Jesus' love for us was "always palpable and concrete" because He experienced the "roughness of the wood and hardness of our existence."
"A child lying in a manger presents us with a scene that is striking, even crude. It reminds us that God truly became flesh," he described.
The Pope asserted that Jesus did not love us only in words, but he loved us with utter seriousness!
Pope Francis added that He who was born in a manger demanded from us a concrete faith consisting of adoration and charity rather than hollow words and superficiality.
The Pope said, "Tenderly wrapped in swaddling clothes by Mary, he wants us to be clothed in love. God does not want appearances but concreteness."
Pope Francis encouraged all to celebrate Christmas by doing something good for others so that "hope be reborn anew in those who feel hopeless" because "God is concrete." - With inputs from Vatican News
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