National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Francis accents 'vulnerability' of God

 |  NCR Today
Rome

In his first Christmas homily as pope, Francis tonight underlined the “vulnerability” embraced by God in choosing to become a poor human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Pope Francis celebrated the Vatican’s traditional Christmas vigil Mass this evening in St. Peter’s Basilica, with the Vatican reporting that it had received a record number of requests from people seeking to take part in the Mass.

Francis’ homily was notable among other things for its brevity, running to scarcely more than 700 words. For the most part, it seemed, Francis was content to let the significance of the Christmas liturgy speak for itself.

The pope opened by saying that Christmas is about a burst of light in a dark night, and that the interplay of light and dark is characteristic of the spiritual journey.

“If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light,” the pope said.

book-cover_arthur_web.jpgNow available! National Catholic Reporter at Fifty: The Story of the Pioneering Paper and Its Editors
Learn more

“If our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us,” he said.

Jesus, Francis said, made visible “the grace, the mercy, the tenderness” of God the Father.

Reflecting on the traditional Christmas story of the birth of Christ, Francis made a point of noting that the shepherds were the first to receive the news of Christ’s birth.

“They were the first,” he said, “because they were among the last, the outcast.”

Francis then offered words of praise and gratitude to God for entering the human condition in order to bring salvation.

“We bless you, Lord God, most high, who lowered yourself for our sake,” Francis said.

“You are immense, and you made yourself small,” he said. “You are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.”

At the end of the homily, Francis emphasized the mercy of the Lord, offering a version of his signature phrase that "God always forgives us."

Tomorrow, Francis is scheduled to deliver the traditional papal Urbi et Orbi remarks, “To the City and to the World,” at noon Rome time.

One American footnote to tonight’s Mass is that the deacons who assisted the pope and the cardinals in celebrating the liturgy came from the North American College, the residence for American seminarians in Rome.

(Follow John Allen on Twitter: @JohnLAllenJr)

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 29-September 11, 2014

08-29-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.