He told the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square – and those across the world joining the broadcast – that these words contain a paradox.
Opposites reconciled in Jesus
The Eternal Word and human flesh were polar opposites before the Incarnation, said the Pope.
“‘Word’ indicates that Jesus is the eternal Word of the Father, infinite, existing from all time, before all created things; ‘flesh’, on the other hand, indicates precisely our created reality, fragile, limited, mortal.”
He added that “heaven and earth”, “infinite and finite”, “spirit and matter”, and “light and darkness” are other opposites that apparently have nothing to do with each other.
Yet, said Pope Francis, in Jesus all of these polar opposites come together and are reconciled in the Incarnation of the Son of God.
“Jesus is the light of God who has entered into the darkness of the world. God is light: in Him there is no opacity; in us, on the other hand, there is much darkness. Now, with Jesus, light and darkness meet: holiness and sin, grace and sin.”
Dwelling in our midst
Pope Francis said the Gospel uses these polarities to announce God’s “splendid” way of acting.
When God is confronted with our frailties, He does not pull back and retreat into His eternal, infinite light.
Rather, God “descends into darkness, and dwells in lands that are foreign to Him,” said the Pope.
“This is God’s work: to come among us. If we consider ourselves unworthy, that does not stop Him. If we reject Him, He does not tire of seeking us out. If we are not ready and willing to receive Him, He prefers to come anyway.”
Incarnate in our poverty
The Pope noted that we often keep our distance from God because we doubt our worthiness. Christmas, however, invites us to see things from God’s point of view.
“God wishes to be incarnate,” he said, urging us to overcome our fears by drawing near to Jesus.
“Think of the stable in Bethlehem. Jesus was born there, in that poverty, to tell us that He is certainly not afraid of visiting your heart, of dwelling in a shabby life.”
The Gospel, he noted, uses the word “to dwell”, which expresses great intimacy and “total sharing.”
Living in our ‘inner stables’
Pope Francis therefore called on Christians to welcome the Christmas message by making space for Jesus in our hearts, no matter their sinful condition.
He said we can welcome Jesus by pausing for a moment before a Nativity Scene.
A creche, said the Pope, “shows Jesus who came to dwell in all our real, ordinary life, where not everything goes well, where there are many problems.”
God, concluded Pope Francis, is there in the midst of all the situations of our daily lives, waiting for us to speak with Him about them.
“Let us invite Him officially into our lives, especially in the dark areas… in our ‘inner stables’. And let us also tell Him, without fear, about the social and ecclesial problems of our time, even our personal, difficult problems: God loves to dwell among us.”
Source: Vatican News article by Devin Watkins