In a traditional meeting for this time of year, the Pope today received a group of children from Italian Catholic Action, who came to the Vatican to wish him a happy Christmas.
Addressing the young people, the Holy Father made reference to the slogan - "Beautiful. True" - they had chosen for their formative journey this year. "Christmas," he said, "is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God Who came among us for everyone's salvation. The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."
"In the face of the little Jesus," the Holy Father proceeded, "we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' ... demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem."
"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas" is, said Benedict XVI, in some way reflected in the birth of all children, "and it invites us to recognize the Infant Jesus in all babies, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world."
The Pope assured the children of his trust in them and called upon them "to be friends and witnesses of Jesus, Who came among us in Bethlehem. Is it not a beautiful thing to make Him better known among your friends, in cities, in parishes and in your families? The Church needs you in order to be close to all the children and young people who live in Italy. Bear witness to the fact that Jesus takes away nothing of your joy, but makes you more human, more true, more beautiful."