In preparation for Christmas, Pope Francis underscored Christ’s option to be born into a poor, humble family, adding that people cannot buy their way into Heaven, but must do things God’s way, which is the way of simplicity.
In his homily Friday, the Pope stressed that on Judgment Day, things will look different than they do now.
At the Last Judgment, Francis declared, Jesus will not say, “‘You, come with me because you have given so much money to the Church. You are a benefactor of the Church. Come, come to Heaven.’ No. You can’t buy your way into Heaven.”
“And He won’t say: ‘You are very important, you have studied so much and earned so many honors, come into Heaven.’ No. Awards do not open the gate of Heaven,” he said.
“What will Jesus tell us to open up the gates of Heaven?” Francis asked. “‘I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat. I was homeless, and you gave Me shelter. I was sick, and you came to see Me. I was in prison, and you came to visit Me.’ Jesus is humility,” he said.
The Pope said that Christmas offers many lessons, just by looking at the way Jesus chose to be born.
When He decided to come to earth, Francis said, “He didn’t choose a big city of a great empire. He didn’t choose someone important like a princess or a countess for his mother. He didn’t choose a luxurious mansion. It seems that everything was intentionally done almost secretly,” he said.
“Mary was a girl of no more than 16-17 years, in a remote village on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, and no one knew that village, certainly. Joseph was a boy who loved her and wanted to marry her, a carpenter who earned his daily bread,” he said.
“This is the way of God among us,” Francis said. “If you want to find God, look for Him in humility, look for Him in poverty, look for Him where He is hidden: in the needy, the most indigent, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.”
The way of salvation, he added, “is not in luxury; it is not the way of the great riches or in the way of power. It is in the way of humility.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.