Christmas is a season of light and joy. These were the themes expressed in the Pope’s three wishes for Christmas.

Pope Benedict XVI related his Christmas wishes as he lit the lights on a sprawling electronic tree on the mountain slopes in Gubbio, Italy. The tree is composed of an arrangement of 300 colored lights that outline the tree and another 400 multicolored lights that fill in the tree’s image.

He pointed out that as we look at the tree’s branches reaching up to the sky, we should also lift our hearts and minds upward toward God. “My first wish, therefore, is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that in some way, like this tree that tends upward, it be directed toward God. God never forgets us but He also asks that we don’t forget Him.”

He retold the Gospel story of Christ’s birth, “a light enveloped the shepherds, announcing a great joy to them: the birth of Jesus, the one who brings us light, or better, the One who is the true light that illuminates all.”

He continued, “My second wish is that we recall that we also need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness. But what light can truly illuminate our hearts and give us a firm and sure hope? It is the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we receive Him anew in our lives, asks us to want Him, to trust in Him, to feel His presence, that He is accompanying us, sustaining us, and helping us.”

Part of the magic of the Christmas tree is its multi-colored lights that light up the area around the tree. “My final wish is that each of us contribute something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns, and cities,” the Pontiff said as he verbalized his third wish. “Each of us must be a light for those who are at our sides; that we leave aside the selfishness that, so often, closes our hearts and leads us to think only of ourselves; that we may pay greater attention to others, that we may love them more,” he wished. “Any small gesture of goodness is like one of the lights of this great tree: together with other lights it illuminates the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night.”

Source: Vatican City, Dec. 9, 2011, (

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