By Giovanni Camandu da Mondovi (1746-1822), an Italian painter who studied in Rome but worked mostly in Turin. This painting is in the Duomo of Turin, Italy
By Pope Benedict XVI, Public Catechesis, January 4 2012, continued:
First of all, let us ask ourselves: what is the first reaction to this extraordinary action of God who makes himself a child, who makes himself man?
I think that the first reaction can only be one of joy.
“Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Savior is born to the world.”
The Mass on Christmas Eve begins with these words, and we have just heard what the Angel said to the shepherds: “Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy” (Lk 2:10).
This is the theme with which the Gospel begins and also with which it concludes, since the Risen Jesus was to reprimand the Apostles precisely for being sad (cf. Lk 24:17) — incompatible with the fact that he remains Man for eternity. However, let us take another step; what gives rise to this joy?
I would say that it is born from the heart’s wonder at seeing that God is close to us, that God thinks of us, that God acts in history; it is therefore a joy born from contemplating the face of that humble Child because we know that he is the Face of God present forever in humanity, for us and with us. Christmas is joy because at last we see and are certain that God is the goodness, life, and truth of human beings and that he stoops down to them to lift them up to him.
…to be continued…
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Reprinted from Inside the Vatican magazine, December 2019