In a meeting today with children from the group Italian Catholic Action, Pope Benedict XVI said "The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago." The Pope added, "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," said Benedict, "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, he said, 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 called on the children "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."
Speaking Wednesday at the weekly General Audience spoke of contemplating Christ in the manger. "On Christmas Eve, we will stand once again before the manger, and contemplate in wonder the 'Word made Flesh'," he said.
"It appears that many people consider God as foreign to their interests," the Pope said. "They have no apparent need of Him, and live as if He did not exist or, worse still, as if He were an 'obstacle' to be removed in order to achieve self-fulfillment. Even among believers are those who let themselves be attracted by alluring mirages and distracted by misleading doctrines that propose illusory shortcuts to happiness."
"And yet," he added, "with all their contradictions, their anguish and their dramas — or perhaps precisely because of them — men and women today seek a road of renewal, of salvation, they seek a Savior and await, sometimes without knowing it, the coming of Christ, man's only true Redeemer."
"Of course, false prophets continue to propose 'low cost' salvation, which always ends up delivering resounding disillusionment. Indeed, the history of the last 50 years provides an example of this search for a 'low cost' Savior and highlights all the consequent disillusionment."
For this reason, the Pope concluded, Christians must, "with the testimony of their lives, propagate the truth of Christmas, which Christ brings to all men and women of good will. Born into poverty in the manger, Jesus came to offer everyone the joy and peace which alone can satisfy the needs of the human soul."