“Do not take Jesus out of Christmas!”

 

Pope Francis on 81st birthday:

On December 17th twenty-five thousand people from many lands came to St. Peter’s Square to wish Pope Francis a happy 81th birthday. On this occasion Pope Francis made an appeal to the world: “Do not take Jesus out of Christmas!” He said: “When you pray at home in front of the crib, with your family, allow yourself to be touched by the tenderness of the child Jesus, who was born poor and fragile among us, to give us his love. This is the true Christmas! If we remove Jesus, what remains of Christmas? An empty feast. Do not take Jesus out of Christmas! Jesus is the center of Christmas. Jesus is the true Christmas.”

 “If we remove Jesus, what remains of Christmas? An empty feast. Do not take Jesus out of Christmas!”

Francis began his celebration with a joy-filled encounter with the children assisted by staff at the Santa Marta dispensary, their parents and the volunteers who help them. The children delighted him as they samg “Happy Birthday” and, after thanking them with a big smile, Francis commented on their joy and enthusiasm and told their parents that “the joy of children is a treasure” and “brings good fruits.” He counseled: “Protect the joy of the children. Do not make children sad. When children see their parents arguing, they suffer. Do not make the children sad! They must grow always with joy.”

A large birthday cake was made by a baker near the Vatican and designed by a street artist Maupal depicting Pope Francis carrying a divided world on his shoulders, which the Pope has sewed and is holding together, seeking to overcome the divisions. He also showed Francis carrying his black briefcase on which the word “values” stands out clearly, as does a scarf of San Lorenzo, his favorite football team.

 

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