The hope that comes to us at Christmas is a different kind of hope — it is reliable and visible because it is founded on God.
The Pope said this today as he took up a third general audience catechesis on the theme of hope.
“Today, a few days from Christmas, I would like to reflect more specifically on the moment in which, so to speak, hope entered the world, with the Incarnation of the Son of God,” he said.
The Holy Father noted how hope often refers to “that which is not in man’s power and which is not visible,” something “beyond our strength” that we cannot see.
“However, Christ’s birth, inaugurating the Redemption, speaks to us of a different hope, a reliable, visible and comprehensible hope, because it is founded on God,” he said. “He entered the world and gave us the strength to walk with him: God walks with us in Jesus and to walk with Him towards the fullness of life gives us the strength to be in the present in a new way, though laborious.”
This hope is a certainty that we are with Christ on the way to the Father, Francis explained.
“This hope, which the Child of Bethlehem gives us, offers a goal, a good destiny to the present, the salvation of humanity, beatitude to the one who entrusts himself to the merciful God.”
The Pontiff suggested that we ask ourselves, “Do I walk with hope or is my interior life stopped, closed? Is my heart a closed drawer or a drawer open to hope, which has me walk with Christ, and not alone?”
Immersed in hope
The Holy Father then turned to the Christmas crib, saying it transmits hope and that each of the people represented there are “immersed in this atmosphere of hope.”
He reflected on each of the personages, starting with the place itself:
— Bethlehem. A small borough of Judea where a thousand years earlier David was born, the shepherd chosen by God as King of Israel. Bethlehem is not a capital, therefore it is preferred by Divine Providence, which loves to act through the little ones and humble ones.
— Mary, Mother of Hope. With her “Yes” she opened the door of our world to God … She, who for nine months was the Ark of the new and eternal Covenant, contemplated the Child in the cavern and saw in Him the love of God, who comes to save His people and the whole of humanity.
— Joseph, descendant of Jesse and David … looking at Jesus in the manger, he meditated that that Child came from the Holy Spirit, and that God Himself ordered him to call him thus, “Jesus.” In that name is every man’s hope, because through that son of woman, God will save humanity from death and sin.
— The shepherds, who represent the humble and the poor … In that Child they saw the fulfilment of the promises and they hope that God’s salvation will finally reach each one of them. (Regarding the shepherds, and the tendency to put one’s trust in material things, the Pope emphasized: “Let’s get this in our head: our securities will not save us; the only security that saves us is that of hope in God.”
— The choir of Angels proclaims from on high the great design that the Child carries out: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). Christian hope is expressed in praise and thanksgiving to God, who has inaugurated His Kingdom of love, justice and peace.
The Pope concluded by saying that the celebration of Christmas will “be truly a celebration if we receive Jesus, seed of hope that God deposits in the furrows of our personal and communal history.”
“Every ‘Yes’ to Jesus who comes is a seed of hope,” he said. “Let us have confidence in this seed of hope, in this yes: ‘Yes, Jesus, you can save me, you can save me.’ A Happy Christmas of hope to all!”