Sunday, December 25, 2011


Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of famine, floods and conflict around the world in his traditional Christmas message on Sunday, following a deadly explosion near a church in Nigeria.  “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,” he told thousands of pilgrims in the Vatican.  The pope urged the international community to aid those suffering from hunger in the Horn of Africa, called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and said he hoped this year’s Arab revolts would aid the “common good”. He also prayed for the victims of recent flooding in Thailand and the Philippines which he said were enduring “grave hardships” and said he hoped for increased dialogue in Myanmar “in the pursuit of shared solutions.”

The pope’s strongest words were against wars and in favor of reconciliation, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land but also in the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the new nation of South Sudan.  “May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood... May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed,” he said.  “May he grant renewed vigor to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good,” he added, following the revolts in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.  Peace was also a central theme in Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal’s Christmas Eve homily delivered in Bethlehem, where hotels and guesthouses were packed to capacity with pilgrims.

At Christmas Eve mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the pope lamented the consumerism surrounding a holiday “whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turns calls us to humility and simplicity.  Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light,” the pope said. The increasingly commercial celebration obscures the simplicity of the message of Christ's birth.

We are approaching a very significant date for most people in this world, Christmas. This is a special moment for meetings, joys, gifts, so many feelings that may not commonly occur at other times of year.  Try to really celebrate Christmas, try - despite the risk of being the party pooper of the family reunion :) - of giving to others the true “Christmas spirit”, a spirit full of giving, where instead of thinking of receive we can want to give; but not to material elements, but to what Christ and all the great teachers have given us - and they still continue giving - a message and example of how to mold our lives according to the will of the Supreme.  To the extent that we can assimilate and share these valuable insights, we can strictly say that we are truly celebrating Christmas.

Śrīpad Bhakti Vedanta Padmanabha Mahārāja :
Cierra Tus Ojos y Mira - “Christmas Meditation”

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