The tree and the Nativity Scene tell us about Christmas and “help us to contemplate the mystery of God who was made man in order to be close to each one of us.” Those were the Pope’s words on Friday while thanking all the people who donated this year’s Sand Nativity Scene and the 23 meter tall Christmas tree set up in the centre of St. Peter’s Square.
A Tree of Light
Pope Francis described how “the Christmas tree with its lights, reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world; the light of the soul that drives out the darkness of enmity and makes room for forgiveness.”
The Pope noted, that this year’s tree comes from the forest of Cansiglio in northern Italy, and he went on to explain that its’ height symbolized God “who with the birth of his Son Jesus came down to man in order to raise him to himself and raise him from the mists of selfishness and sin.”
Reflecting on the Nativity Scene which this year is made from Jesolo sand native to the Dolomites, the Pontiff pointed out that, “the sand, a poor material, recalls the simplicity, the smallness with which God revealed Himself with the birth of Jesus in the precariousness of Bethlehem.”
The Sand Nativity, symbol of humility and freedom
He went on to say to the donor delegation gathered in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall that, “who is small - in the evangelical sense –“ is free to express themselves and move with spontaneity.
All of us, the Pope continued, “are called to be free before God, to have the freedom of a child before his father. The Child Jesus, Son of God and our Saviour, whom we lay in the manger, is holy in poverty, smallness, simplicity and humility.”
Pope Francis concluded by saying that, “the crib and the tree, fascinating symbols of Christmas, can bring to families and to the places where they are found, a reflection of the light and tenderness of God, to help everyone to live the feast of the birth of Jesus. By contemplating the God Child who shines a light on the humility of the manger, we too can become witnesses of humility, tenderness and goodness."