My dear friends, we are together again this year in the grotto of Bethlehem.
This is where the Infant Jesus was born, the Son of God who became a child.
Luke the evangelist – narrates that Mary - gave birth to Him, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and placed Him in the manger.
At Christmas we celebrate the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God: God becomes a child, becomes one of us, and becomes our brother to initiate a new humanity, in which there are only brothers and sisters.
Here the Son of God incarnated during “the night of the world”, in the darkness of our human misery, to give us a human face again.
Here in the grotto of Bethlehem we can imagine the scene of the birth of Jesus. We can imagine Mary giving birth to Him. He is naked and defenceless like any of us at birth and He is hungry. Mary washes Him, wraps Him in swaddling clothes to protect Him from the winter cold, then Holds him close to her and suckles Him, finally placing Him in the manger under the astounded and amazed gaze of Saint Joseph.
In front of this scene it is easy for me to feel emotion, to feel the need to bend my knees and the desire to adore this Child.
But I know that celebrating Christmas is much more than that, because it is precisely this Child who reminds me how important it is - to truly celebrate His coming into the world - to be moved, to bend my knees and to welcome Him when He presents Himself to me in the mystery of the poor, in the mystery of the little ones, in the concrete person of those who today have neither a grotto in which to take refuge, nor even a little straw to lie down on, nor the warmth of affection to feel at home.
My dear friends, ideally on this Holy Night you too are here with us in this Grotto in front of the manger and the Holy Child Jesus.
My dear friends, you too may set off, like the shepherds and like the Magi; to become pilgrims, coming to adore the Infant Jesus.
My dear friends, it is Christmas, I pray that Jesus, the child of Bethlehem, may give us back a little of our true authentic humanity.
Merry Christmas from the Grotto of Bethlehem