"IZwi laba yinyama!" (by Pope Francis)


"IZwi laba yinyama" - "The Word became flesh"
is the motto I chose when I was appointed bishop.
Yesterday Pope Francis spoke about this passage at the Angelus.

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday’s liturgy re-proposes to us, in the prologue of St. John’s Gospel, the deepest meaning of Jesus’ birth. He is the Word of God who became man and pitched his “tent,” his dwelling, among men. The Evangelist writes: “The Word became flesh and came to live among us” (John 1:14). In these words, which never cease to astound us, is the whole of Christianity! God became mortal, fragile like us, he shared our human condition, except for sin, but took our sins upon himself as if they were his own. He entered into our history, he fully became God-with-us! Jesus’ birth, then, shows us that God wanted to unite himself to every man and woman, to each one of us, to communicate his life and his joy.

So, God is God with us, God who loves us, God who walks with us. This is the message of Christmas: the Word became flesh. Thus, Christmas reveals God’s immense love for humanity. From here stems the enthusiasm, the hope of Christians, who in our poverty know that we are loved, visited and accompanied by God; and we look at the world and at history as the place in which to walk together with him and with each other, toward the new heaven and the new earth. With the birth of Jesus a new promise is born, a new world is born, but also a world that can always be renewed. God is always present to raise up new men, to purify the world from the sin that makes it old, from the sin that corrupts it. As much as human history and our own personal history can be marked by difficulties and weaknesses, faith in the Incarnation tells us that God is solidary with man and his history. This closeness of God to man, to every man, and to each of us, is a gift that never fades away! He is with us! He is God with us! This is the good news of Christmas: the divine light, which flooded the hearts of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and guided the steps of the shepherds and the magi, also shines for us today.

In the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God there is also an aspect connected to human freedom, to the freedom of each one of us. In fact, the Word of God pitched his tent among us, sinners and needful of mercy. And we must all make haste to receive the grace that he offers us. But, St. John’s Gospel continues, “his own did not welcome him” (1:11). We too often reject him, we prefer to remain closed up in our errors and the anxiety of our sins. But Jesus does not desist and does not cease to offer himself and his grace that save us! Jesus is patient, Jesus knows how to wait, he always waits for us. This is a message of hope, a message of salvation, ancient and ever new. And we are called to bear witness with joy to this message of the Gospel of life, the Gospel of light, of hope and love, because this is Jesus’ message: life, light, hope, love.

May Mary, the Mother of God and our tender Mother, sustain us always so that we remain faithful to the Christian vocation and make the justice and peace that we desire at beginning of this new year a reality.
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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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