Pope Benedict ushered in Christmas for the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics on Saturday, urging humanity to see through the superficial glitter and commercialism of the season and rediscover the real significance of the humble birth of Jesus.
The 84-year-old pope, celebrating the seventh Christmas season of his pontificate, also urged that those marking the holiday in poverty, suffering or far from home not be forgotten.
Benedict, wearing resplendent gold and white vestments, urged his listeners to find peace in the symbol of the powerless Christ child in a world continually threatened by violence.
“Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity,” he said in his homily to about 10,000 people in the basilica and millions more watching on television throughout the world.
“Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.”
The Christmas story of how Jesus, who Christians believe is the son of God, was born powerless “in the poverty of the stable” should remind everyone of the need for humility.
“… let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart,” he said.