Delivered on separate occasions, the two Christmas massages from 84-year-old Pope Benedict XVI this year should indeed be read together.
At the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, he lamented that Christmas has become an increasingly commercial celebration that obscures the simplicity of the message of Christ's birth.
"Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season,” he said. “And to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light."
And in his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (Latin for "to the city and the world") speech from the central loggia of St. Peter's on Christmas Day, he prayed for famine, flood and conflict victims from around the world.
These are timely reminders for us during the festive time. For years, I have noticed that there is an increasing inclination for many to see Christmas as an occasion for pleasure seeking. The slogan of in a credit card advertisement by Hong Kong’s largest bank, prompting the whole city to “Live, Shop, Play”, says it all. The Pope reminds us not only to ponder the true meaning of Christmas but also to think about and pray for the disadvantaged. On this holy day, let us reflect on the reason for Jesus Christ assuming a human existence which began in the simplest and most humble fashion.