By Devin Watkins
In his address ahead of the traditional Marian prayer on the second Sunday of the Christmas season, the Pope reflected on the meaning of Jesus’ birth.
Though the Church in some countries celebrates Epiphany on Sunday, 5 January – including in the United States – the Vatican and Italy mark the holy day on its traditional date, 6 January.
Incarnation of the Word
The Pope said the Prologue to John’s Gospel show us that the eternal Word – the Son of God – “became flesh”.
“Not only did He come to dwell among the people, but He became one of the people, one of us!” he said.
Pope Francis said the Incarnation of the Word means that we are now able to model our lives after a divine Person who took on our flesh, rather than seeking to follow an abstract principle like the law or an institution.
Making us children of God
The Pope went on to say that St Paul blesses God for His plan of love realized in Jesus Christ.
“In this plan,” said Pope Francis, “each of us finds our fundamental vocation: we are predestined to be children of God through Jesus Christ. The Son of God became man to make us, men and women, sons of God.”
We contemplate our filial relationship with the Father in the Nativity scene, said the Pope. And the day’s liturgy assures us, he continued, that the Gospel of Christ is “the full revelation of God’s plan for humanity”, and not some “fable, myth, or edifying story”.
To be holy in love
Pope Francis said we are faced with a question: “What concrete project has the Lord placed in me, as He continues to make His birth present among us?”
St Paul, he noted, gives us the answer to the meaning of Christmas. “God has chosen us to be holy and without blemish before him in charity.”
“If the Lord continues to come among us and to give us the gift of His Word, it is so that each of us can respond to this call: to become saints in love.”
For the good of our neighbor
Holiness, concluded Pope Francis, means “belonging to God, communion with Him, and becoming a manifestation of His infinite goodness.”
“Whoever accepts holiness as a gift of grace,” he said, “cannot fail to make it bear fruit in concrete action in daily life, in the encounter with others.”
Acting in love, said the Pope, makes us “immaculate”, going on to explain what he meant.
“Immaculate not in the sense that I remove a stain. Immaculate in the sense that God enters into us. The gratuitous gift of God enters into us, and we care for it and give it to others.”
And Pope Francis asked the Virgin Mary to “help us welcome with joy and gratitude the divine plan of love realized in Jesus Christ.”