RELIGION

Pope says ‘our hearts are in Bethlehem’ as he presides over the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s

Dec 24, 2023, 1:25 PM | Updated: 4:31 pm

Pope Francis blesses a family as he presides over Christmas eve Mass, at St. Peter's Basilica at th...

Pope Francis blesses a family as he presides over Christmas eve Mass, at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday Dec. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Recalling Jesus’ birth in a stable in Bethlehem, Pope Francis in a Christmas Eve homily said that “the clash of arms even today” prevents Jesus “from finding room in the world.”

The pontiff presided Sunday over the evening Mass attended by about 6,500 faithful who took their place amid the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica behind rows of white-clad prelates.

“Our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, ” the pope said, referring to the war sparked by Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 rampage and hostage-taking in Israel.

As Mass began, a statuette of the Christ child was unveiled before the altar bedecked in greenery and white flowers, and children representing all corners of the globe placed flowers around a gilded throne.

Francis, draped in white robes, led the Mass standing at the foot of one of St. Peter’s grand columns.

Recalling that Jesus was born during a census meant to reinforce King David’s power, Francis warned against “the quest for worldly power and might, fame and glory, which measures everything in terms of success, results, numbers and figures, a world obsessed with achievement.”

By contrast, Jesus entered the world humbly, taking human flesh. “Here, we see not a god of wrath and chastisement, but the God of mercy, who takes flesh and enters the world in weakness,’’ the pope said.

A pagan deity is linked to “power, worldly success and idolatry of consumerism,” the pope said. “God, on the other hand, waves no magic want; he is no god of commerce who promises everything all at once. He does not save us by pushing a button, but draws near us, in order to change our world from within.”

When the Christmas Eve Mass ended, the pope, pushed in a wheelchair, moved down the basilica with the life-sized statue of Baby Jesus on his lap and flanked by children carrying bouquets. The statue was placed in a manger in a nativity scene in the basilica.

Francis, 87, has been using a wheelchair to navigate long distances due to a painful knee ligament and a cane for shorter distances.

During the traditional Angelus blessing overlooking St. Peter’s Square at midday, the pontiff remembered those suffering from war, recalling specific fighting in Ukraine and Israel’s bombardment and siege of the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ attack.

“We are close to our brothers and sisters suffering from war. We think of Palestine, Israel, Ukraine. We also think of those who suffer from misery, hunger, slavery,’’ Francis said. “May the God who took a human heart for himself infuse humanity into the hearts of men,” he added.

Speaking from the window of his studio to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer, the pontiff also invited the faithful “not to confuse celebration with consumerism. One can and, as a Christian, must celebrate in simplicity without waste and by sharing with those who lack necessities or lack companionship.”

Traditionally, Catholics mark Christmas Eve by attending Mass at midnight. But over the years, the starting time at the Vatican has crept earlier, reflecting the health or stamina of popes and then the pandemic. The Vatican has kept a 7:30 p.m. time originally set during a pandemic curfew.

On Christmas Day, tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims were expected to crowd into St. Peter’s Square to hear Pope Francis deliver an address on world issues and give his blessing. The speech, known in Latin as “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world), is traditionally an occasion to review crises including war, persecution and hunger, in many parts of the globe.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Religion

A trip to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines quickly became personnel for...

Dan Rascon

Members of Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square pay respects to fallen US soldiers in the Philippines

Members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square visited the largest American cemetery outside of the United States, making it a tender and special day for all.

7 hours ago

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for the first time in the Philippines in the grand b...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for first time in the Philippines

History was made for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as it performed its very first concert ever in the Philippines.

11 hours ago

A boy leads a band through a community near Manila, Philippines....

Dan Rascon

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring water to Filipino community

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped to build new water tanks for a small Filipino community that was in desperate need.

1 day ago

A group of young Filipino girls are excited...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir arrives in Philippines to continue ‘Hope’ world tour

There was celebration, music and dancing as the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square arrived in the Philippines to kick of the second segment of its Hope world tour.

3 days ago

A rendering of the Provo temple after announced renovations, which will be called the Utah Rock Can...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Church of Jesus Christ announces name change for Provo temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that the temple serving BYU students and missionaries at the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center, along with other members, will be renamed as part of its reconstruction.

4 days ago

Tuesday February 9, 2006. Photo by Scott G. Winterton / Deseret Morning News.The Ten Commandments m...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah House committee approves Ten Commandments bill despite constitutional concerns

A Utah lawmaker is no longer pushing for public schools to display a copy of the Ten Commandments but wants to add other biblical precepts and the Magna Carta to the curriculum.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Pope says ‘our hearts are in Bethlehem’ as he presides over the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s