By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis’ catechesis on Christmas was focused on the idea of “surprises.” While the world insists on exchanging presents, the Holy Father asked, “what gifts and surprises would God want?”
Looking back at the first Christmas, the Pope said it was “full of surprises,” for Mary, for Joseph. From the Angel’s announcement of Mary’s pregnancy, to the Flight into Egypt, that first Christmas “brought unexpected changes” to their lives.
“But it was in the middle of the night of Christmas,” Pope Francis said, “that the biggest surprise of all arrived: The Most High is a little baby.” Christmas, he said, means celebrating the “unprecedented things of God,” or rather, “the unprecedented God.”
The Pope said that “doing Christmas” means “welcoming on earth the surprises of heaven.” It means helping the needy, as Jesus came down to help us in our neediness; trusting in God, as Mary did, even if we don’t understand his plans; rising up, as Joseph did, to accomplish God’s will, even if it means changing our own plans.
If, on the other hand, we prefer the usual, mondane celebrations, we risk doing Christmas wrong. “If Christmas remains [only] a beautiful traditional feast,” where the focus is on ourselves rather than Jesus, “it will be a lost opportunity,” the Pope said. “Please, don’t make Christmas worldly!”
And so, he explained, it will really be Christmas “if, like Joseph, we make room for silence; if, like Mary, we say ‘Here I am’ to God; if, like Jesus, we are close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we go out of our enclosures to be with Jesus.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said in conclusion, “have a good Christmas, rich in the surprises of Jesus!”