In a homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said “we ask for the grace to prepare ourselves with faith to celebrate Christmas”.
He noted that Christmas is often celebrated with no focus on Jesus, but God is asking us to celebrate with faith. The Pope said “it's not easy to keep the faith, it's not easy to defend the faith… it's not easy!”
Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel of John in which a boy who was blind is healed: “It will do us good today, and also tomorrow, during the week, to take chapter 9 of the Gospel of John and read this beautiful story of the boy who was blind from birth.
“From the bottom of our hearts” he concluded “utter an act of faith and say: I believe Lord. Help me in my faith. Defend my faith from worldliness, from superstitions, from all that is not faith. Keep it from being reduced to theory, be it theological or moral… Faith in You, Lord.”
In a second homily on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis spoke of another way to prepare for Christmas, which is to let ourselves welcome God’s consolation, God’s comfort.
Consolation, the Pope clarified, is not the same as optimism. “No. Optimism is something else. But consolation, we’re talking about radiant, positive people: the positivity, the radiance of the Christian is the consolation.”
The Pope recognised that when we suffer, we might not feel that consolation. However, a Christian will not lose interior peace “because it is a gift from the Lord,” who offers it to all, even in the darkest moments.
Therefore, in these weeks leading up to Christmas, we should ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid to allow ourselves to be consoled by Him.
Knocking with caresses
The Pope, referring back to the day’s Gospel according to Matthew, said we should pray: “that I too might prepare myself for Christmas at least with peace: peace of heart, the peace of Your presence, the peace given by Your caresses.”
“But [you might say] “I am a great sinner.” – Ok, but what does today’s Gospel tell us? That the Lord consoles like the shepherd who, if he loses one of his sheep, goes in search of it; like that man who has a hundred sheep, and one of them is lost: he goes in search of it. The Lord does just that with each one of us.”
“[But] I don’t want peace, I resist peace, I resist consolation… But He is at the door,” Francis said, reminding: “He knocks so that we might open our heart in order to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to allow ourselves to be set at peace. And He does it with gentleness. He knocks with caresses.”