Only the Humble Heart Can Receive the Word Made Flesh

Author: Pope John Paul II

In his General Audience on Wednesday, 23 December 1987, the Holy Father spoke of how the Word of God become flesh can be accepted only by a humble heart, like that of the Virgin Mary. 

Dear brothers and sisters:

1. Advent, which we begin with the pressing invitation of the Church to live in vigilance and expectation, is about to end with the long-awaited feast day, because it is a bearer of joy and peace.

The liturgy has prepared us, gradually growing in intensity, for the imminent celebration of Holy Christmas, at the same time that it offers to our reflection and our prayer the events, the sayings and the people, who have prepared the birth in time of the Incarnate Word.

The Word of God has become flesh and cannot be surpassed by human words or by the noise of the world. It is the omnipotent Word that nothing can obfuscate. However, for it to be accepted, it must find pure humble hearts, like that of the Virgin Mary. Mary recognized her own smallness before God, to whom she had given herself totally, placing her trust in Him alone because she loved him above all things.

This was precisely the reason why She, the "full of grace", was granted the most precious wealth, the Son of God, and in Her the beatitude that Jesus himself proclaimed was realized in the highest way: "Blessed are the poor in the spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ( Mt 5, 3).

Let us therefore ask the Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother to make our souls sharers in the same sentiments that dwelled in her, the days before Christ's Christmas. Amazed and confused by the humility of God, by his generosity towards us, we will thus be able to recognize in the Child, who lies in the manger, the breadth, the height and the depth of divine Love. (cf. Eph 3, 18).

2. The unmistakable climate of serene expectation, characteristic of these days so close to the feast that celebrates the coming of God among men, enriches today's audience with a particular meaning.

In this circumstance it pleases me, dearest brothers and sisters, to exhort you to keep awake the sense of the majesty of God. This does not mean to be afraid of him, as if he were a stranger or a rival, as certain philosophical currents of our time present him. Simply, God demands that we acknowledge his limitless love and, filled with his greatness and goodness, go to him to worship him.

Let us therefore approach the Child Jesus with great faith and we will learn better and better how all humanity is reconciled in Him, vivified and made pleasing to the Father. In Christ, the Almighty grants us a heart capable of knowing him and returning to him (cf. Jer 24, 7), along the path indicated by the "joyful news" of a God who became Man so that man could reach goodbye.

Pilgrims of faith and love, let us set out on the path to Christ. He is the full realization of the promises of the Father.

3. With this thought I turn especially to you, young people present at this meeting, especially those who have come from the parish of Santa Maria Assunta di Montevecchio, Nocera Umbra. I propose to your reflection and imitation the behavior of the shepherds, who were the first to receive from the Angels the announcement of the Savior's birth and rushed to the grotto.

To find Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, you have to set out on the journey, leaving behind commitments, duplicities, and selfishness; one must make oneself interiorly available to the suggestions that He will not fail to provoke in every heart that knows how to listen. This is what I wish you for the upcoming Christmas holidays. May you pass together with the Child Jesus and with his Most Holy Mother, in serene joy. these blessed days

I would also like to address a particular greeting and congratulations to you, dearest patients. I have before my eyes, at this moment, all the painful tragic situations on earth, all the sick and all those who suffer at home or in hospitals. I would like to forcefully repeat to each and every one the words of Jesus: "Courage, it is I, do not fear" ( Mk 6, 50).

Pain is not necessarily a punishment or fatality; it can be the providential, albeit mysterious, occasion for the works of God to be revealed (cf. Jn 9:1-3). May the Child Jesus make all of you who suffer hear his proclamation of peace!

Finally, I also greet you with affection, dear newlyweds. Your presence makes me think of the new year, which will begin shortly. Humanity is also renewed every day and Providence nourishes his Church and the world with new life.

Look at the grotto of Bethlehem: the people you see there (cf. Lk 2, 16) can be your model and your example. Like Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve, like Mary and Joseph who offered him to men, so you too learn to give yourself, communicating the happiness and joy with which God has filled you.

With the maternal help of Mary, may your new family be a small Church in which Jesus comes to be born.

I wish you and all those present a merry Christmas and from my heart I impart my blessing.

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