Recalling Jesus’ birth in a stable, Pope Francis rebuked those “ravenous” for wealth and power at the expense of the vulnerable, including children, in a Christmas Eve homily decrying war, poverty and greedy consumerism.
At the St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis presided over the evening Mass attended by about 7000 faithful, including tourists and pilgrims, who flocked to the church on a warm evening and took their place behind rows of white-robed pontiffs.
Francis drew lessons from the humility of Jesus’ first hours of life in a manger. He said:
“While animals feed in their stalls, men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbours, their brothers and sisters.
How many wars have we seen! And in how many places, even today, are human dignity and freedom treated with contempt!”
“As always, the principal victims of this human greed are the weak and the vulnerable.
“This Christmas, too, as in the case of Jesus, a world ravenous for money, power and pleasure does not make room for the little ones, for the so many unborn, poor and forgotten children. I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice.”
“Do not allow yourself to be overcome by fear, resignation or discouragement.” Jesus’ lying in a manger shows where “the true riches in life are to be found: not in money and power, but in relationships and persons”.
Remarking on the “so much consumerism that has packaged the mystery” of Christmas, Francis said there was a danger the day’s meaning could be forgotten.
But, he said, Christmas focuses attention on “the problem of our humanity – the indifference produced by the greedy rush to possess and consume”.
“Jesus was born poor, lived poor and died poor,” Francis said. “He did not so much talk about poverty as live it, to the very end, for our sake.”
Francis urged people to “not let this Christmas pass without doing something good”.