There’s something precious about watching young children experience the joy and wonder of the lights and decorations and presents under the tree. But Pope Francis reminds us that not all children experience these things that so many of us take for granted. Often we can’t even imagine how terrible life is for these children. This is the challenge of the Gospel, the challenge of Jesus. That challenge doesn’t go away because it’s Christmas. We don’t get a break from the reality of suffering and violence in our world. To hide our faces is to compound our guilt. Pope Francis never tires of telling us that our God is merciful and loving, filled with tender love and forgiveness. But that love comes at a price. For Jesus, it was the cross. For us, it’s knowing that we need to be the care and protection of God to all people, especially those who are suffering the most. If we want to see Jesus this Christmas, the best place to look is in the faces of the least ones, the lost ones, the suffering ones. As individuals, we can never do enough. But we can’t let that keep us from doing what we can. Only then can we look to our own happiness and peace. Children are suffering all over the world from war, from the refugee crisis, from human trafficking, from poverty, from abuse. Lest you think it’s only a problem in developing countries, many agencies in your own city will tell you that children are suffering close to home as well. Find some way to get involved in helping to alleviate this problem. Even a small step is a good beginning. Do it for them, do it out of gratitude for the joy-filled children in your own family, do it for the God who became one of us and risked his life as a small and vulnerable child.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek