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A prayer for the victims of natural disasters which struck United States, Britain and South America. This is how Pope Francis has concluded his last general audience in St. Peter’s Square in 2015. In particular, the Pope has dedicated attention to Paraguay where the flood has caused “unfortunate victims, many displaced and extensive damage.” Hence the appeal: “let fraternal solidarity help them in their needs.”

During the customary catechesis, Bergoglio called on Christians to abandon any “claim to autonomy before Jesus.” “I am sure that in their homes many families have Cribs, carrying on this fine tradition which dates back to St. Francis of Assisi and which keeps alive the mystery of God becoming man in our hearts. Devotion to the Child Jesus – the Pope said – is widespread. Many saints have cultivated it in their daily prayers, and they wanted to build their lives on the example of the Child Jesus. “Like Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun took the name of Teresa of the Child Jesus and that of the Holy Face. She – who is also a Doctor of the Church – has been able to live and bear witness to that “spiritual childhood ‘which can be assimilated exactly through meditation, at the school of the Virgin Mary, the humbleness of God who became little for us.”

There was a time, the Holy Father recalled, “when in the divine-human person of the Christ, God was a child, and this must have its own special meaning in our faith. It is true that His death on the cross and His resurrection are the ultimate expression of His redeeming love, but do not forget that all his earthly life is revelation and teaching. During the Christmas period, let us remember His childhood. To increase our faith we need to contemplate the Child Jesus more often. Of course, we do not know anything about Jesus in this period. The few indications we are in possess of refer to the imposition of the name eight days after His birth and His Presentation in the Temple; also the visit of the Three Kings with the subsequent flight to Egypt (cf. Mt 2.1 to 23). Then, there is a big leap to twelve years, when Mary and Joseph make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem together with Jesus for the Passover, and instead of returning with His parents, He stays in the Temple to talk to the lawyers”.

We know very little about the Child Jesus, he noted, “but we can learn a lot from Him if we observe children’s life. We will find out, first of all, that children want our attention. They want to be at the center of our attention because they need to feel protected. It is necessary also for us to put Jesus at the center of our lives and know, although it may seem paradoxical, that it is our responsibility to protect Him. He wants to stay in our arms, he wants to be cared for and be able to look in our eyes. Besides, putting a smile on the face of the Child Jesus to show Him our love and our joy because He is among us. His smile is a sign of love that gives us the certainty of being loved. Children, finally, love to play. Playing with children means abandoning our logic and entering theirs. If we want them to have fun, we need to figure out what they like. It is a lesson for us.

The Pope recalled that, “before Jesus, we are called to give up our claim to autonomy and accommodate the true form of freedom instead, which consists in knowing who is in front of us and serve Him. He is the Son of God who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father which is rich in love and mercy. Let us hold the Child Jesus in our arms, let us serve Him: He is the source of love and serenity. “With this impromptu speech, Francis entrusted the faithful in St. Peter’s Square with a task “It would be a good thing to do today, when we get back home, to ask Jesus for grace next to the Crib: ‘I want to be humble like God.”

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