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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Pope calls on followers to support those in poverty on Christmas Eve

Pope Francis said that those who are indifferent to the poor “offend God.” In a Christmas season overshadowed by coronavirus worries, he also urged followers to value the “little things in life.”

Pope Francison Friday called on his followers to value the “little things in life” and support the poor as he delivered his Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He also said that people who are indifferent to the poor offend God, and urged all to “look beyond all the lights and decorations” of the Christmas season and remember those in need.

 “On this night of love, may we have only one fear: that of offending God’s love, hurting him by despising the poor with our indifference,” he said.

Around 2,000 members of the public and 200 religious figures attended. Those who had not managed to find a ticket watched on huge screens outside St. Peter’s Basilica. The crowd was restricted to about a fifth the size of pre-pandemic years due to COVID-19.

“Brothers and sisters, standing before the crib, we contemplate what is central, beyond all the lights and decorations, which are beautiful. We contemplate the child,” Francis said, as everyone in attendance — except for him — wore masks.

Enjoy the ‘littleness’

The 85-year-old Argentinian pontiff recalled the shepherds in the tale of the nativity, who lived modestly and witnessed the birth of Jesus.

“That is where Jesus is born: close to them, close to the forgotten ones of the peripheries. He comes where human dignity is put to the test.”

He called for people to seek out “littleness”  in “our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school and in the workplace.”

“Jesus asks us to rediscover and value the little things in life,” he added.

The pope also quoted a line from a poem by US writer Emily Dickinson: “Who has found the heaven — below — Will fail of it above”  and added in his own words: “Let us not lose sight of heaven; let us care for Jesus now, caressing him in the needy, because in them he makes himself known.”

It was the second such Christmas Eve mass during the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, barely 200 people, mostly Vatican employees, attended the service.

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