Pope marks Christmas by urging compassion for the marginalized

Vatican City, Dec 24 (EFE).- Pope Francis used the occasion of Friday’s Christmas Eve Mass to appeal for attention to the needs of the poor and emphasize the right of the lowest-paid workers to dignity and safety.

“God tonight comes to fill with dignity the austerity of labor,” he told the roughly 2,000 prelates, diplomats and other worshippers allowed inside St. Peter’s Basilica for the Midnight Mass, which actually began before 8:00 pm.

“On the day of life, let us repeat: no more deaths in the workplace! And let us commit ourselves to ensuring this,” the 85-year-old pontiff said.

More broadly, Francis said that believers should always bear in mind the “littleness” of Jesus, who was born in poverty.

“That is where God is, in littleness,” he said. “This is the message: God does not rise up in grandeur, but lowers himself into littleness. Littleness is the path that he chose to draw near to us, to touch our hearts, to save us and to bring us back to what really matters.”

Last year, due to Covid-19, only 200 people were permitted to enter the basilica, which can hold up to 20,000 people. Though Italy has rolled back most of the pandemic restrictions, attendance remained limited amid a surge of cases from the Omicron variant.

“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. Jesus loves them dearly, and one day they will welcome us to heaven,” the pope said.

He exhorted Christians to return to the origins of faith where “the shepherds and Magi are joined in a fraternity beyond all labels and classifications.”

“Let us look at the Magi who make their pilgrim way … let us go to Bethlehem, where God is in man and man in God,” Francis said.

“May God enable us to be a worshipping, poor and fraternal church. That is what is essential. Let us go back to Bethlehem,” he said. EFE gsm/dr

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