Speaking at Vespers for the closing of 2017, Pope Francis said the only appropriate response to the gift that God gave us when He gave His Son Jesus, is immense gratitude and a thankful heart. This attitude of gratitude is especially important as we reflect on the past year and take stock of the many blessings that were bestowed upon us in 2017.
As Pope Francis has said, from Mary: “The Church has inherited and continuously inherits this inner perception of fullness, which nourishes a sense of gratitude, as the only human response worthy of the immense gift of God.
“A heart wrenching gratitude which, starting from the contemplation of that Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, extends to everything and everyone, to the whole world.
“It is a ‘thank you’ that reflects Grace; it does not come from us, but from Him; it does not come from me, but from God. In this atmosphere created by the Holy Spirit, we raise to God thanksgiving for the year that draws to a close, recognising that all that is good is His gift.”
Pope Francis went on to reflect on the passage: “... but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,” [Gal 4:4] and said that the passage “breathes the atmosphere of the fullness of time.”
Rather than attributing thankfulness to the end-of-year celebration, Pope Francis said it is our faith that “makes us contemplate and feel that Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, gave fullness to the time of the world and human history.”
Pope Francis went on to express his own thankfulness, not just for the Lord and the gift of His Son, but also to the faithful whose actions -whether that be maintaining calmness when stuck in traffic, or caring for the elderly - are a testament to the love they hold in their hearts.
He also expressed his gratitude to parents and teachers for teaching and shaping children to have “an ethic of responsibility,” and “to take an interest in the reality that surrounds them.”
Pope Francis’ short homily was delivered for Vespers in St Peter’s Basilica as part of the traditional year-end celebration held each 31 December.