By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis’ revealed his “wish for a happy Christmas” as a “wish for fraternity” during his Christmas Urbi et Orbi message. To those physically present in St Peter’s Square and to all joining through the media, the Pope renewed the angel’s song: “Glory to God in the highest”… and invited all to “halt in wonder” as the shepherds did and to silently “fall to our knees and worship”. (Photo gallery included.)
God is a good Father
The Christmas message is all about a child who came to tell us that “God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters”, Pope Francis said. Without Jesus’ gift of fraternity, what we do to build a more just world would be “soulless and empty”, he said. “For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity”.
Pope Francis said he wishes for fraternity among individuals, regardless of nation, culture, ideology, or religion. Jesus revealed “God’s face” through a “human face”. The variety and differences we experience “are a source of richness”, the Pope said, like the variety of coloured tiles in the hands of a mosaic artist. God, who is our “parent”, binds us together and is the “foundation and strength of our fraternity”.
For the Israelies and Palestinians, the Pope wishes resumption of the dialogue and path to peace to end the 70-year conflict rending “the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love”.
For Syrians he wishes that they can “find fraternity after long years of war” and that through international cooperation those who have fled may return home.
For Yemen, the hope that the truce will hold and bring relief to her people and children “exhausted by war and famine”.
For Africa, that the “Holy Child, the King of Peace” might “silence the clash of arms” allowing a “new dawn of fraternity to rise over the entire continent”.
For the Korean peninsula he prayed for the consolidation of the “bonds of fraternity” set in motion this year.
For Venezuelans the Pope hopes they might “recover social harmony” so as to “work fraternally” toward the country’s development.
For Ukrainians, he hopes “the Newborn Lord” might “bring relief” and “a lasting peace” which is possible only through respect for the “rights of every nation”.
For Nicaraguans he prayed that they might “see themselves once more as brothers and sisters” through reconciliation and building Nicaragua’s future together.
Pope Francis also mentioned those whose “freedom and identity” are compromised through modern forms of colonialization, those suffering from hunger, lack of education and health care.
For those celebrating Christmas in hostile situations, Pope Francis prayed that all minorities might live peacefully through respect for the right of religious freedom.
God loves us
In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that the Child in the manger might “watch over all the children of the world, and every frail, vulnerable and discarded person”. He hopes that all might receive “peace and consolation” as through “the birth of the Saviour” we know that “we are loved by the one heavenly Father”, that we might realize “that we are brothers and sisters and come to live as such”.