Nativity scene
Pope Francis has delivered Christmas messages reminding us to pause and reflect on the Crib to prepare for this special time of year.

A message to Catholic children

On 16 December, the Holy Father had a special message for children. Speaking to children representing Italian Catholic Action who visited the Vatican Apostolic Palace, he said:

‘I thank you for your visit, for your good wishes and especially for your prayers. And I renew them with the hope that the Saviour will make complete the joy that I see on your faces today…

I leave you a task to do at home: on Christmas Day, gather in prayer and, with the same wonder as the shepherds, look at the Child Jesus, who came into the world to bring God’s love, who makes all things new. With His birth, Jesus made Himself a bridge between God and mankind, reconciled earth and sky, and recomposed the whole human race in unity.’

Being bridges

Pope Francis explained that God wants children to be ‘little “bridges”’. He said: ‘you already realise that there is always a need to build bridges, don’t you? What is better? Building bridges or walls?’ The children responded enthusiastically that bridges were better. The Pope acknowledged that being ‘bridges’ is not always easy. But, he said ‘if we are united with Jesus we can do it.’

He concluded:

I ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, to accompany your journey. I recommend that you learn from her what it means to say: “Christmas”. She and Saint Joseph can truly teach us how to accept Jesus, how to adore Him and how to follow Him day by day. I bless you and all the boys and girls of the ACR. And you, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!”

At Christmas, we naturally focus on children, as we remember Christ entering our world as a baby. It’s particularly fitting then that the Pope’s Prayer Intention for the month of December is offered for the children of the world. And it’s the reason why Missio is asking particularly for support for the children of Nazareth House in South Africa during Advent and Christmas. At this time of year, we can stop to contemplate, celebrate and nurture the potential of children all around the world.

Time to pause and prepare

Meanwhile on the 18 December, Pope Francis used the General Audience to ask the people present how we might prepare for Christmas. He suggested one way to do this would be to make a crib. He said that making a crib was a way:

‘to celebrate God’s closeness, and to rediscover that He is real, concrete and alive’

The baby Jesus with open arms, he explained, tells us that God came to embrace us in our humanity. The crib is a ‘domestic Gospel’, Pope Francis said, evoking the meals and times we share with our families.

This beautiful message reminds us to focus in on the family this Christmas, and reminds us to pray for families who struggle in conflict or poverty. We live in a ‘frenetic’ world, but the Crib offers a moment to pause and contemplate. The Pope also pointed out that, in a world where weapons continue to be manufactured daily and we are surrounded by violent images, the crib is ‘an artisanal image of peace, that’s why it is a living Gospel’. When we make a crib, he concluded, we open up our homes and say  ‘“Jesus, come in!”: If Jesus dwells in our lives, life is reborn, and if life is reborn, it really is Christmas!”

We wish you a happy and holy Christmas

At Missio we give thanks for the prayers and support you share with us throughout the year. 2019 in particular has been a special one for Mission, celebrating EMM2019 in October. You inspired us by coming together to share your faith and personal mission with each other and the world. We appreciate every penny, pound and prayer you give and with your help will continue to ignite God’s love throughout the world in 2020 and beyond.

We wish all of our supporters and your families a happy, holy and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful start to the new year!

Quotes taken from
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash