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 CNS Story:

POPE-AUDIENCE Jan-2-2013 (320 words) With photos. xxxi

Christmas is reminder of God's great power, pope says at audience

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The annual celebration of Christ's birth fills Christians with hope and joy because it is a reminder that the power of God is always at work, and he does great things even through the weak and the small, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Continuing his Christmas reflections at his weekly general audience Jan. 2, the pope explained why Catholics traditionally bow their heads when, in reciting the creed, they come to the words, "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man."

With an estimated 7,000 visitors and pilgrims filling the Vatican audience hall, the pope said Christmas naturally raises the question, "How could that little and weak baby have brought something so radically new that it changed the course of history?"

The answer, the pope said, is that the baby Jesus is God incarnate and savior of the world.

"This proclamation, which continually resounds as something new, gives rise to hope and joy in our hearts because it gives us the certainty that, even if we often feel weak, poor and incapable in the face of the difficulties and evil of the world, God's power is always active and he works marvels precisely through weakness," the pope said.

With a Christmas tree and Nativity scene still dominating the stage in the audience hall, the pope said awe is the most appropriate response to the great mystery of God becoming human and being born in a manger.

"When we listen to the Masses composed by the great masters of sacred music -- for example Mozart's Coronation Mass -- notice how they dwell" on the Incarnation phrase of the creed, "as if they were trying to express with the universal language of music that which words cannot explain: the great mystery of God made man," he said.

- - -

Editor's Note: The text of the pope's audience remarks in English will be posted online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130102_en.html.

The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130102_sp.html.

END


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