By Devin Watkins
At the end of the calendar year, Pope Francis prayed Vespers and the Te Deum in St. Peter’s Basilica, in thanksgiving to God for the blessings of 2019.
In his homily, the Pope reflected on how God choses those on the margins of society, in the smallest of cities, to enter our world.
“God’s decision is clear,” he said, “to reveal His love, he chooses a small city, a despised city, and when He reaches Jerusalem, He joins the population of sinners and castaways.”
Uncovering God’s presence
The Pope said Jesus’ birth, and hidden early life, are an invitation to “uncover” His presence within our cities, because He has never left them.
“It is we who must ask God the grace of new eyes, capable of ‘a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares’.”
God, said Pope Francis, lives in our midst and walks with us constantly. “His faithfulness is concrete.”
Salvation begins in a poor woman’s womb
The Pope added that God chose to begin the work of salvation “in the womb of a small, poor woman of His People,” and not in the greatness of the Temple.
“This choice of God is extraordinary!” he said, “He does not change history through the powerful men in civil and religious institutions, but beginning with the women on the margins of the Empire, like Mary”.
Our response, said the Pope, should be to work for peace and to help those in need.
“The Lord rejoices seeing how much good is accomplished each day, how much energy and how much dedication there is in promoting fraternity and solidarity.”
Pope Francis said Rome is both a complex city – with its share of “problems, inequalities, corruption and social tensions” – and a place where “God sends His Word” to impel us to believe, hope, and love, while “fighting for the good of all.”
He reflected on the many people he has met who represent Rome’s beating heart, calling them “rivulets of living water of the Spirit”.
“Truly,” he said, “God has never ceased changing the history and the face of our city through the population of the least and the poor who live in it: He choose them, inspires them, motivates them to action, makes them united, impels them to create support systems, to create virtuous connections, to build bridges and not walls.”
Recognizing God in the cry for help
In conclusion, Pope Francis said God is calling the Church of Rome to “connect with others and listen to what they are living and their cry for help.”
Loving others through listening, he said, is one way we can recognize the action and presence of God in those around us.