Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Midnight Mass: Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness

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From the Website of Vatican
links: http://www.news.va/en/news/christmas-midnight-mass-jesus-is-the-light-who-bri

Christmas Midnight Mass: Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness

2013-12-25 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) “In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light.”

In his homily during Christmas Midnight Mass, Pope Francis reflected on “the mystery of walking and seeing.” Walking, he said, brings to mind the whole of salvation history, beginning with Abraham, our father in faith. “From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord!” And yet, the Pope said, “on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.”

Pope Francis said that in our own lives, too, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”

But, he continued, “On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race.
“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God . . . He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light.”

The Gospel of the Mass tells how the shepherds were the first to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. “They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast,” the Pope said. “And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks.” The Holy Father called on us to join the shepherds, to pause before the Child in silence, thanking God and praising His fidelity.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the plea: “On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.”



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Pope Francis: Angelus appeal on behalf of persecuted Christians

2013-12-26 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed on Thursday for Christians who suffer violence, discrimination and all manner of injustice because of their faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel. The Pope’s call for prayerful solidarity with persecuted faithful came on the Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr, and a day after bomb attacks on a Catholic church and a Christian neighbourhood market in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed thirty-eight people. “We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St. Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds,” said Pope Francis. He went on to say, “This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized.” Listen:

The Holy Father explained that, even in countries that have protections for freedom and human rights “on paper,” believers in general, “and especially Christians, encounter [abridgements of their liberty – It. limitazioni] and discrimination.”

Pope Francis departed from his prepared remarks to note that there are indeed a great many Christians who suffer in these ways – more even than in the time of the first Christians – and paused to lead the faithful in praying the Ave, Maria! on their behalf. He went on to say that Christians ought not be surprised by such mistreatment, since Jesus said such things would happen and that they offer good occasion for profound witness. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Injustice in the civil [sphere] must be denounced and eliminated.”

The Holy Father’s appeal came at the end of his reflection ahead of the traditional St Stephen’s Day Angelus prayer, during which he spoke of the holy deacon and proto-martyr’s feast as being, “in full harmony with the deeper meaning of Christmas.” Pope Francis added, “In martyrdom, in fact, violence is overcome by love, death by life. The Church sees in the sacrifice of the martyrs their ‘birth’ into heaven. So [on this day] we celebrate the ‘birth’ of Stephen, which springs from the depths of the birth of Christ. Jesus turns the death of those who love Him into the dawn of new life!”


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