Especially in today’s era of science, technology and materialism, the people of the world risk spiritual emptiness and should not hesitate to let Christ come into their homes, cities, nations and minds, said Pope Benedict XVI in the annual Christmas message "to the city and the world."
The Pope gave his "Urbi et Orbi" message from the balcony at St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican City as rain poured down on Christmas day to the crowd gathered below. The message, his first Christmas Day message at the Vatican since becoming pontiff, was to not fall prey to earthly pursuits.
"Today we can dispose of vast material resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart," said the Pope. "That is why it is so important for us to open our minds and hearts to the Birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to the life of each human being."
He pointed out that although many feel that today’s age has been awakened to reason, it isn’t sufficient without Christ.
"Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world," he said. "For this reason the words of the Christmas Gospel: ‘the true Light that enlightens every man was coming into the world’ (John 1:9) resound more than ever as a proclamation for salvation."
The pope touched upon many of the major problems confronting the world today. From wars, genocide, and political instability in Africa, to pleas for "peace and harmony" in Latin America and couragement for those in the embattled Middle East, Pope Benedict indicated that the solution to the problems was for the world to trust in Christ.
"A united humanity will be able to confront the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet," he said.
"May His love guide every people on earth and strengthen their common consciousness of being a ‘family’ called to foster relationships of trust and mutual support," he added.
He asked that people contemplate and "accept this paradox" of the incarnation of God, "the Word made flesh," as a helpless infant that "challenges our way of being human."
"Once we accept this paradox, we discover the Truth that sets us free and the Love that transforms our lives. On Bethlehem Night, the Redeemer becomes one of us, our companion along the precarious paths of history. Let us take the hand which He stretches out to us: it is a hand which seeks to take nothing from us, but only to give."