December 30, 2015 // Uncategorized

Baby Jesus teaches people to let go of ego, be humble, kind, pope says

By Carol Glatz

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 30. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Christmas season is a time to learn from baby Jesus to let go of selfishness and be humble and giving as he is, Pope Francis said.

In fact, people should take the little figurine of Jesus from their Nativity scene and kiss it, “and tell Jesus, ‘I want to humble like you, humble like God,'” the pope said Dec. 30 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope dedicated his catechesis to the importance of contemplating baby Jesus. The Christmas season offers a timely occasion for this reflection, since many people customarily set up a Nativity scene at home, he said.

Pope Francis said the figure of the holy infant in his simple crib invites people to adore the child Jesus and to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation as a revelation of God’s saving love.

“In order to grow in the faith, we need to reflect more often on baby Jesus,” who came into the world in such a humble way “for us,” he said.

“This is a great mystery: God is humble. We, who are proud, full of vanity, who think we’re a big deal, yet we’re nothing. He is great, he is humble and he became a child. This is a true mystery. God is humble. This is beautiful,” the pope said.

While the New Testament offers few accounts of Jesus’ infancy and early childhood, the pope said people can still learn a lot by looking at the children in the world.

“We discover, most of all, that children want our attention. They have to be at the center of attention — because they’re proud? No. Because they need to feel protected,” he said.

“We, too, have to put Jesus at the center of our lives and realize, even if it seems paradoxical, that we have a responsibility to protect him.

“He wants to be in our arms, he wants to be looked after and be able to fix his gaze onto ours,” he said.

Just as being affectionate to a child can make him or her smile, people can “make baby Jesus smile by demonstrating our love and our joy because he is among us.”

“His smile is a sign of that love that gives us assurances of being loved,” the pope said.

Children also show that when it’s playtime, adults have to let go of their own mindset and enter into the world of that child, the pope said. “We have to understand what he likes and not be self-centered and make him do what we like. It’s a lesson for us.”

“Before Jesus, we are called to let go of our pretension of autonomy — and this is the heart of the problem, you know, our pretense of autonomy — in order to embrace instead the true form of freedom, which consists of recognizing whom we have before us and serving him,” he said.

“He, the child, is the son of God who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the father so full of love and mercy. So hold the baby Jesus tight in our arms and let us put ourselves at his service. He is the source of love and serenity.”


Vatican says 3.2 million pilgrims visited in 2015

By Junno Arocho Esteves

A large crowd greets Pope Francis as he arrives for an audience in mid-June in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. More than 3.2 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services at the Vatican in 2015, the Vatican said. (CNS photo/Maurizio Brambatti, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — More than 3.2 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services at the Vatican in 2015, the Vatican said.

The statistics, released Dec. 30, were compiled by the Prefecture of the Papal Household, which coordinates papal events and distributes free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies. The prefecture said more than 3.2 million people attended a papal event in 2015.

The total was a significant drop from the 5.9 million visitors received by Pope Francis in 2014. It was also slightly more than half the 6.6 million pilgrims who visited the Vatican during the first nine and a half months of his pontificate in 2013.

During 2015, at least 704,000 people attended the pope’s 42 weekly general audiences; more than 408,000 attended a special group audience; at least 513,000 pilgrims participated in papal liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica or St. Peter’s Square; and more than 1.5 million attended the pope’s Angelus address on Sundays and major feast days in St. Peter’s Square.

The papal event statistics do not include papal events in the city of Rome or international visits made by Pope Francis. They are also based on the number of ticket requests and estimates of crowd size.



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