From Asia News Italy:
From rejection to indifference, from scientific atheism to the depiction of a “post-modernized” Jesus: a mere “teacher of wisdom” or so “idealized” that he seems like a fairytale character. These are some forms of “rejection of God” of our times: perhaps more subtle and dangerous than those in the past, they go against the welcome of Jesus we are called to extend at Christmas. This was the subject tackled today by Benedict XVI before 8,000 people who attended the first general audience of 2007. Last year, according to statistics of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, more than one million – precisely 1,031,500 – took part in 45 general audiences, while 3,222,820 people met Benedict XVI in Rome throughout 2006 in audiences, Angelus prayers and liturgical celebrations.
Music and choirs in different languages (five came from the USA) were all united in the Christmas spirit of the meeting that was mentioned by the pope who noted the Christmassy atmosphere of the audience. He said the atmosphere was an invitation to joy for the birth of the Redeemer who has “abundantly spread” goodness, mercy and love throughout the world.
The Pope coughed at times as he referred to the Gospel of John, dwelling upon the significance of Christmas as a manifestation of our being children of God, “because Jesus came to put up his tent among us”, to gather all peoples into one family, not into one people but farther still, into a single family.
But “the joy of Christmas should not make us forget the mystery of evil, the power of the shadows that seek to obscure the splendour of divine light”. And the “tragedy of rejection of Christ that expresses itself today in many different ways as it did in the past. Perhaps more subtle and dangerous are those forms of rejection of God in the modern era”, that range from “clear rejection to indifference to scientific atheism” to “the presentation of a modernized, or better still, post-modernized Jesus; Jesus as a man reduced to being a mere ‘teacher of wisdom’ and deprived of his divinity, or else a Jesus who has been so idealized that at times he seems like a fairytale character.”
But Jesus is “true God and true man” and he never tires of promoting his Gospel. At Christmas, then, it is clear that “now we know the face of God” and “the amazing announcement that God loves us”. “It was not we who loved God; it was he who loved us first”.
The Child who is born “asks that we make space for him in our hearts and society”. The pope added: “One cannot remain indifferent before Jesus” and “we too must take a stand all the time. What will our answer be?”