Pope Benedict XVI: A Call for the Church to Rediscover Her Gift

I recommend Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Day message. It is 1415 words, the full text of which can be found here. That link points to the Vatican’s official English translation of the pope’s annual Christmas Urbi et Orbi – “to the City and the World.”

In his brief address, the 79-year-old pope mentions many modern events, good and bad – space travel, genetic science, the Internet; hunger, poverty, “unbridled consumerism,” terrorism; conflicts in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Darfur. However, the words that touched me the most are the last two paragraphs of his message:

A community saved by Christ. This is the true nature of the church, which draws her nourishment from his word and his eucharistic body. Only by rediscovering the gift she has received can the church bear witness to Christ the savior before all people. She does this with passionate enthusiasm, with full respect for all cultural and religious traditions; she does so joyfully, knowing that the One she proclaims takes away nothing that is authentically human, but instead brings it to fulfillment. In truth, Christ comes to destroy only evil, only sin; everything else, all the rest, he elevates and perfects. Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him the world might be saved (cf. Jn 3:17).

Dear brothers and sisters, wherever you may be, may this message of joy and hope reach your ears: God became man in Jesus Christ, he was born of the Virgin Mary and today he is reborn in the church. He brings to all the love of the Father in heaven. He is the savior of the world! Do not be afraid, open your hearts to him and receive him, so that his kingdom of love and peace may become the common legacy of each man and woman. Happy Christmas!

I am moved by the pope’s call for the church to “rediscover the gift she has received” of salvation through Christ. Christ is still, this day, the Savior of the world. As the pope implies, if Christians forget or neglect the gift of Christ, how can we “bear witness to Christ the savior before all people”?