VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI marked Christmas Eve with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and a pressing question: Will people find room in their hectic, technology-driven lives for children, the poor and God?
The pontiff prayed that Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and freedom, and asked the faithful to pray for strife-torn Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
The ceremony began at 10 p.m. local time Monday with the blare of trumpets, meant to symbolize Christian joy over the news of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. As midnight neared, chuch bells tolled throughout Rome, while inside the basilica, the voices of the Vatican’s boys’ choir resounded joyously.
Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican traditionally began at midnight, but the start time was moved up years ago so as to give the 85-year-old pontiff more time to rest before his Christmas Day speech. That address is to be delivered at midday Tuesday.
In his homily, Benedict cited the Gospel account of Mary and Joseph finding no room at an inn and ending up in a stable which sheltered the baby Jesus. He urged people to reflect upon what they find time for in their busy, technology-driven lives.
“The great moral question of our attitude toward the homeless, toward refugees and migrants takes on a deeper dimension: Do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent,” he said.