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That wondrous exchange between the divine and the human

· At the General Audience the Pope speaks about the celebration of Christmas ·

Christmas is “the point at which Heaven and earth meet” giving life to what St Athanasius of Alexandria describes as that “wondrous exchange” between divinity and humanity. The Pope recalled this during the first General Audience of 2012, which took place on the Wednesday, 4 January, in the Paul VI Hall. Taking up a few themes tied to the Christmas season, the Pontiff highlighted especially the dimension of joy that is born “from the astonishment of the heart at seeing how God acts in History”. He, the Pope said, “comes close enough to see and touch”. In this Child, needy for all things, in fact, “what God is – eternity, power, holiness, life and joy – is united to what we are – weakness, sin, suffering and death”.

The first consequence of this “wondrous exchange”, thanks to which “the distant has become close”, is worked in the very humanity of Christ. “The Word, “stressed Benedict XVI, “ assumed our humanity and, in exchange, human nature was elevated to dignity of the divine”. From that derives “our real and intimate participation in the divine nature of the Word”. Christmas, then, is “the feast in which God comes close to man in to share with him is own birth, in order to reveal his most profound dignity: that of being a child of God”.

A second dimension highlighted by the Pope was that of light. “The Christmas liturgy is flooded with light”, he said, because the coming of Christ “clears away the darkness of the world” and “spreads across the face of men the splendour of God the Father”. Enveloped in this light, thus, “we are invited in earnest to allow our minds and heart to be enlightened by God who has revealed the radiance of his Face”.

In this perspective, the celebration of the Epiphany reveals “a call to the Church, but also to each one of us, to take up again with a more lively awareness of the mission and the responsibility to the world in witnessing and bearing the new light of the Gospel”. The Church, he pointed out, “is not the light, but receives the light from Christ, she welcomes it in order to be illuminated and to spread it in all its splendour”.

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