By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis is inviting children to look to the Child Jesus with amazement and, like Him, be little “bridges” where they live.
He made the invitation to a group of some 64 boys and girls of the Italian organization called Azione Cattolica dei Ragazzi (ACR), or Children’s Catholic Action.
50 years of ACR
Comprising youngsters between 4 and 14 years of age, ACR is the children’s wing of the Catholic Action of Italy (AC), a lay organization founded in 1922 for the spiritual and moral renewal of society through the education and formation of young people.
The children’s wing was started in 1969.
Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the various initiatives that ACR has carried out marking its 50th anniversary this year. “Your formation programme,” the Pope said, “outlines a path that helps you to become aware of your vocation as missionary disciples.”
Marking their 50 years, some 1,000 boys and girls from all over Italy gathered together in Rome from October 31 to November 2, in what they called, “Children in Synod”. Expressing appreciation for this initiative, the Pope said he was curious to know about their observations and resolutions.
However, he gave the boys and girls homework to do. “On Christmas Day, gather together in prayer and, with the same amazement of the shepherds, look at the Child Jesus, who came into the world to bring the love of God, who makes all things new,” the Pope said.
“With His birth,” he explained, “Jesus made Himself a bridge between God and mankind, reconciled earth and sky, recomposed the whole human race into unity.” Today, the Pope said, the Child Jesus also asks them to be little "bridges" where they live.
When the Pope asked them whether it is better to build bridges or walls, the youngsters together answered “Bridges”. He noted they must have already realized the need for it. At times, he pointed out, it is not easy “but if we are united with Jesus we can do it”.
In conclusion, the Holy Father urged the children to learn the true meaning of Christmas from Mary. “She and Saint Joseph”, he said, “can truly teach us how to accept Jesus, how to adore him and how to follow Him day by day.”