Pope Benedict XVI's message for Christmas:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!
is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the
men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message
of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent,
beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of
the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.
is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O
Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come
to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us!
This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by
themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They
need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which
reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand
is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that
God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us
firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which,
by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means
“Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save
us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the
evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being
self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to
decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf.
Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human
beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry
out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”
very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it
makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God
and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are
those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To
realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from
the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to
heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of
escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our
cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot
remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to
share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our
cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations,
achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only
the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us
in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which
respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation,
dialogue and cooperation.
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and
throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the
Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to
save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many
people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak
out for those who have no voice.
Together let us ask God’s help
for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food
shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May
the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many
displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been
May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of
South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are
still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.
the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which
even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant
peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world,
and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and
May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has
already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in
Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of
society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they
strive to advance the common good.
May the birth of the Saviour
support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the
pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure
political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of
Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to
safeguarding the rights of all citizens.
Dear Brothers and
Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The
Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world
a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our
hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say
to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”
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