In today's general audience, the last of 2007, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke on the subject of Christmas.
"If, on the one hand, Christmas is a commemoration of the incredible prodigy of the birth of the only-begotten Son of God from the Virgin Mary in the grotto of Bethlehem," said the Pope, "on the other, it also exhorts us to wait, vigilant and prayerful, for our own Redeemer, Who on the last day 'will come to judge the living and the dead'."
"Perhaps today," the Pope added in off-the-cuff remarks, "we faithful truly believe in the Judge; we all expect justice. We see so many injustices in the world, ... and we expect justice. ... We hope that whoever comes can bring justice. In this context we pray to Jesus Christ to come as a Judge. ... The Lord knows how to come into the world and create justice."
"Hoping for justice in the Christian sense means ... that we too begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, ... creating justice in our own lives. ... In this way we can open the world to the coming of the Son and prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord Who comes."
Returning to his prepared text, Benedict XVI said: "He Who was generated by the Father in eternity became a man in history thanks to the Virgin Mother. The true Son of God is also a true Son of man. Today, in our secularized world, these concepts do not seem to count for very much. People prefer to ignore them or to consider them superfluous to life, advancing the pretext that they are so far distant as to be practically untranslatable into convincing and significant words.
"Moreover," he added, "we have formed a view of tolerance and pluralism such that to believe that Truth has been effectively manifested appears to constitute an attack on tolerance and the freedom of man. If, however, truth is cancelled, is man not a being deprived of meaning? Do we not force ourselves and the world into a meaningless relativism?"
He continued: "How important it is, then, for us to reinforce the mystery of salvation which the celebration of Christ's Nativity brings. In Bethlehem the Light that illuminates our lives was revealed to the world; we were shown the Way that leads us to the fullness of our humanity. If we do not recognize that God was made man, what sense does it have to celebrate Christmas? We Christians must reaffirm with profound and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's nativity, in order to bear witness before everyone of the unique gift which brings wealth not just to us, but to everyone.
"From here," the Holy Father added, "arises the duty of evangelization, which is the communication of the 'eu-angelion,' the 'good news.' This was underlined in the recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 'Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization,' which I wish to present for your reflection and your individual and joint perusal."
"In these days leading up to Christmas," said Pope Benedict, "the Church prays more intensely for the realization of hopes of peace and salvation, of which the world today still has such urgent need. Let us ask God for violence to be defeated with the strength of love, for contrasts to give way to reconciliation, for the desire to dominate to be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace. May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange over these days reach all areas of our daily lives."
"May the message of solidarity and acceptance which arises from Christmas," the Pope concluded, "contribute to creating a more profound awareness of old and new forms of poverty, and of the common good in which everyone is called to participate."
According to a note published today by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, a total of 624,100 people participated in the 44 general audiences celebrated by Benedict XVI during the course of 2007.