Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!
Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the
men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of
Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the
confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is
born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel,
our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O
Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry
raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot
prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a
greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear
brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin
Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire
of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love
(cf. Ps 40:2).
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary
and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt
1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all
from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from
God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete
with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the
master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the
great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on
God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to
The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it
makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were
saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are
in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first
step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been
locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and
call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears
us and can come to our assistance.
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this!
God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of
himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf.
Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely
transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone,
but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose
to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which
respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas
2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary,
and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with
the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak
out for those who have no voice.
Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who
suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state
of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to
the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been
May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly
Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result
of the recent floods.
May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which
even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and
stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the
resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end
to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he
foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant
renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and
the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.
May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and
cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of
the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes
Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to
safeguarding the rights of all citizens.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, 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. Let us open our
hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him,
with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”