ABC News – Pope Francis has urged people to have greater empathy towards family and friends with problems in his Christmas Eve mass, saying the world “needs tenderness” and warmth.
“Do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us?” the pontiff asked in his traditional homily delivered in St Peter’s Basilica, filled with 5,000 worshippers.
“Or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today.”
The 78-year-old Pope entered the vast basilica in a solemn procession flanked by cardinals intoning the Kalenda, a Gregorian chant proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ.
Francis then removed a cloth from a statuette of a smiling baby Jesus that two children, from Syria and Lebanon, had carried into the sanctuary, and kissed the figure.
Today is Christmas Day. It is a day of remembrance and celebration of some sort. Christians commemorate the day for the gift of life. Businesses celebrated it for the sounds of clanking tills. For the Holy See, it is a time for the Pope to deliver his homily. The Pope, being the vicar of christ, speaks words of authority to the one over billion Roman Catholics all over the world. In his message, the Pope thinks that the “world needs tenderness today”. He is correct somewhat. In the face corruption in the Vatican and prevalent sex abuses by Catholic priests, there is a need for “tenderness” of the right kind. Hopefully, in his “tenderness”, the Holy See does not condone acts of immorality. On the contrary, instead of just preaching tenderness, he should have wielded his sword with Star War-like lightsabre thundering noises, searing the souls of un-repentant man and his priests. It should be a wake-up call.
Not only does God love, God is love. There is another side of love that has be largely forgotten. There is judgment.
The Christmas message has been grossly perverted in commercialised Christianity. Like the Pope, churches preach love and tenderness. Churches gloat over the blessings of God, promising man peace and prosperity. Not that they are wrong to preach thus. The problem is that they forgot the most important caveats in fine print. They are not much different from insurance policies wherein the salesperson expounded the merits of insurance without explaining killer clauses in the fine prints. They are wrong in not exposing the crux of what Christmas really means. In that, it is tantamount to deception. Deception is worse than outright lies.
God is love, that is true. But love hates evil. Love does not tolerate wrongdoings. Love demands repentance – that man must turn away from sin so that he may live again. Christmas, symbolically representing the day Christ was born, becomes utterly phoney and useless if Christ died in vain. Unless and until man man sees his naked sin, there is no Christmas. Man rejoices in the birth of Christ but has disregarded the pain of His death in the crucifixion. The birth and death of Christ is humanity’s pain. It is His resurrection that is humanity’s triumph.
The Pope “in a letter addressed to the community, he urged Christians to help their fellow Muslim citizens present “a more authentic image of Islam” as a religion of peace.” It matters not what the image of Islam is. It is just an image. It may well be “a religion of peace” as the Pope seems to think so. The Quran is a publicly available book and is free for anyone to discover what Islam really says in the Quran (read these: Quranic Contradictions and Quranic Verses to Mull Over). It is not about what other religions represent or believe in. Everyone of them has a right to proclaim their doctrine (but not a right to murder others for what they believe). Some believe God created man, while others think god is a mental creation of man. It is none of man’s duty to challenge what others believe in. That is God’s given right to every man to have his own volition to choose.
It’s Christmas time. People are expected to wallow in hedonism and get so drunk that they cannot stand straight. Transportation advertisements proudly cajole you to get drunk that they may offer you a “pleasant” ride home without the danger of getting the police stopping you for a breathalyser puff. How nice! This is how the world sees Christmas – Party time of the year!
For those still sane and sober over the Christmas season, you may wish to seriously contemplate what Christmas is all about. There is only one simple question to ponder: “who do you think Christ is“? This is the Christmas message.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.