By Robin Gomes
“The nativity scene is the suggestive place where we contemplate Jesus, who having assumed our wretchedness, invites us to do likewise through our acts of mercy.” Pope Francis made the reflection on Thursday while thanking all those who donated this year’s Nativity scene on the theme of works of mercy and the 28 meter tall Christmas tree set up in the centre of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope wished that the birth of the Lord be an occasion for all to be attentive to the needs of the poor and all those who like Jesus don't’ find anyone to welcome them.
The Pope met some 4000 people of various donor delegations at the Vatican’s audience hall. They represented the southern Italian Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine that donated the Nativity scene, Poland’s Warmia Archdiocese and Elk Diocese that donated the red fir tree and children undergoing cancer treatment in various Italian hospitals who made the various decorations.
Commenting on the Christmas tree, the Pope said it is a sign of the faith of the Polish people and the expression of their fidelity to the see of Peter. Thanking the children he said they have conveyed to Jesus their dreams and desires through their decorations which, he said, will be admired by pilgrims from all over the world.
Message of Crib, Christmas tree
The Pope said that each year the Christmas Crib and the Christmas tree become a symbol of the compassion of the heavenly Father, and his participation and closeness with humanity that feels it is not abandoned in the night of the times but is visited and accompanied amidst its difficulties.
The tree pointing up, he said, urges us to stretch out "towards the highest gifts", and rise above the mist that clouds, to feel how beautiful and joyous it is to be immersed in the light of Christ. In the simplicity of the crib we meet and contemplate the tenderness of God, manifested in that of the Child Jesus.
St. Peter's Christmas Crib and Christmas tree were to be inaugurated later on Thursday.