“Simple and familiar, the creche evokes a Christmas that is different from the consumeristic and commercial one,” Francis said.
The pope urged Catholics to appreciate the nativity scene as an opportunity for a “moment of silence” in their frenetic lives. “If we truly seek to celebrate Christmas, we rediscover through the nativity scene the shock and surprise of the smallness, the smallness of God, who makes himself small, who isn’t born in the pomp of appearance but in the poverty of a manger,” he said.
Francis encouraged believers to “make themselves small” in order to meet Christ where he is.
The pope’s namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, is credited with inventing the custom of building nativity scenes, building the first one in 1223. “The poor man from Assisi loved Christmas because it served as an opportunity to contemplate the king of glory,” said Sister Raffaella Petrini, the secretary general of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and highest ranking woman in the Vatican.
“We also are invited to contemplate the mystery of incarnation,” she added.
Francis concluded his remarks by reminding those in the hall that “God loves us so much that he wished to share our humanity and our lives.
He never leaves us alone, he is at our side in every circumstance, in joy and in sorrow,” he added.
The Christmas tree and nativity scene will remain in the square for faithful from all over the world to see until January 8.
This article originally appeared here.