“Christmas is preferring the silent voice of God to the noise of consumerism”, Pope Francis told the 7,000 faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall for today’s general audience. “If we can pause in silence before the nativity scene, then Christmas will be a surprise even for us, not something seen before”. “To pause in silence before the nativity scene: this is the invitation for Christmas”, he continued off the cuff: “Take some time, go before the nativity scene, pause in silence, and you will feel, you will see the surprise”. “Unfortunately, however, we risk celebrating Christmas wrong, if we prefer the usual, worldly things to the Heavenly news”, Pope Francis warned: “If Christmas remains only a beautiful traditional feast, where the focus is on ourselves rather than on Him, then it will be a lost opportunity”. “Please, do not make Christmas worldly!”, the Pope remarked. “Let us not forget the Celebrated One, like back then, when He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept Him. From the beginning of Advent, the Gospel of the Lord has warned us, urging us not to let ourselves be overpowered by the trivialities and anxieties of daily life. These days we rush, maybe more than in the rest of the year. But this is the opposite of what Jesus wants. We blame the many things that fill our lives, the fast pace of the world. Yet Jesus did not blame the world; He asked us not to be overwhelmed, but to keep watch and pray. “It will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we make room for silence”, Pope Francis concluded. “If, like Mary, we say ‘here I am’ to God; if, like Jesus, we are close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we go out of our enclosures to be with Jesus. It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor manger of Bethlehem. It will not be Christmas if we look for the shimmering glow of the world, if we fill ourselves with presents, luncheons and dinners, but do not help at least one poor man, who looks like God, because at Christmas God came as a poor man. “I wish you a merry Christmas: a Christmas full of surprises, but Jesus’ surprises!”, the Pope said in his Christmas greetings: “They may seem uncomfortable, but it is God’s taste. If we accept them, then we will make ourselves a wonderful surprise. We all have in our hearts the ability to be surprised: let us allow ourselves to be surprised by Jesus this Christmas!”.