With the Christmas season fast approaching, Pope Francis took the opportunity of his weekly General Audienceon 22 December to reflect on the birth of Jesus – an event that “history cannot dispense with.”

Recalling the familiar figures of Mary and Joseph in the stable at Bethlehem, the humble shepherds, and the rich and powerful Magi from the East, the Pope explained, “The message of the Gospel is clear: the birth of Jesus is a universal event that concerns all of humanity.”

The Pope noted the humility of the shepherds, but also the religious seeking of the pagan wise men, who undertook a long and difficult journey to find and adore the new-born king of the Jews, in whom they recognised the Son of God made man.

He emphasised that it is only through humility that we can come to God and recognise the true meaning of life, the reason “why life is truly worth living.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to invite every man and woman to the stable of Bethlehem to adore the Son of God made man.”

Everyone is called to seek God, the Pope insisted, and with and through God’s grace, everyone is able to find Him. The Holy Father invited every man and woman throughout the whole world to come “to the stable of Bethlehem to adore the Son of God made man.”

In the first place, he said, “I would like to put the poor” – the hungry, the thirsty, the exiles, the naked, the ill, the prisoners, with whom Jesus wanted to be mystically identified.”

Then, like the Second Vatican Council, the Pope expressed his desire to “accompany” religious seekers, even those who fight against religion. With the Council, he assured them that “the recognition of God is in no way hostile to man’s dignity, since this dignity is rooted and perfected in God.”

Foundation of joy

Finally, the Pope returned to the message of the Angel at Bethlehem: “Peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.” He noted, with the Apostle John, that love consists “in this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us” and that “we love because He first loved us.”

This, the Pope said, is the reason for our joy, knowing that we are loved without any merit, that we are always loved first by God, with a love so concrete that He took on flesh and came to live in our midst.”

Jesus is the name and the face of this divine love, and Jesus, the Pope said, “is the foundation of our joy.”