Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world! Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.
This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O
Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come
to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us!
This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by
themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They
need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which
reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand
is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that
God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us
firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will,
Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf.
Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all
from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of
separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient,
of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is
good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This
is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot
save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him:
“Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”
The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright;
it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God
and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are
those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To
realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from
the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to
heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of
escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only
this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he
comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our
human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave
in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity
which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and
the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is
certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about
him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this
Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son
of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these
words in spiritual union with the many people who experience
particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have
Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa,
who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a
persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not
fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that
region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.
May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia,
particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave
hardships as a result of the recent floods.
May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts
which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace
grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the
world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and
Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so
much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and
stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all
elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East
as they strive to advance the common good.
May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and
cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the
Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of
the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan
in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of
Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has
brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace.
Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once
more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum