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Pope’s Christmas Message: Find Power in Powerlessness, Serve Workers and the Poor

Pope Francis asked his Christmas Eve congregants to ponder the profound paradox at the center of their faith, the location of power in powerlessness:

The Gospel emphasizes this contrast. It relates the birth of Jesus beginning with Caesar Augustus, who orders the census of the whole world: it presents the first Emperor in all his grandeur. Yet immediately thereafter it brings us to Bethlehem, where there is no grandeur at all: just a poor child wrapped in swaddling cloths, with shepherds standing by. That is where God is, in littleness. This is the message: God does not rise up in grandeur, but lowers himself into littleness. Littleness is the path that he chose to draw near to us, to touch our hearts, to save us and to bring us back to what really matters.

Brothers and sisters, standing before the crib, we contemplate what is central, beyond all the pretty lights and decorations. We contemplate the child. In his littleness, God is completely present. Let us acknowledge this: “Baby Jesus, you are God, the God who becomes a child”. Let us be amazed by this scandalous truth. The One who embraces the universe needs to be held in another’s arms. The One who created the sun needs to be warmed. Tenderness incarnate needs to be coddled. Infinite love has a miniscule heart that beats softly. The eternal Word is an “infant”, a speechless child. The Bread of life needs to be nourished. The Creator of the world has no home. Today, all is turned upside down: God comes into the world in littleness. His grandeur appears in littleness [Pope Francis I, homily, Christmas Eve Mass, St. Peter’s Basilica, 2021.12.24].

And for all of you pious politicos invoking God’s will in your aspirations, Pope Francis says, think again:

Let us ask ourselves: can we accept God’s way of doing things? This is the challenge of Christmas: God reveals himself, but men and women fail to understand. He makes himself little in the eyes of the world, while we continue to seek grandeur in the eyes of the world, perhaps even in his name. God lowers himself and we try to become great. The Most High goes in search of shepherds, the unseen in our midst, and we look for visibility; we want to be seen. Jesus is born in order to serve, and we spend a lifetime pursuing success. God does not seek power and might; he asks for tender love and interior littleness [Pope Francis, 2021.12.24].

If Christians in power are to infuse their official actions with the spirit of Christmas, they should attend to those who were first to attend the birth of their Savior, the workers and the poor:

We gaze once again at the crib, and we see that at his birth Jesus is surrounded precisely by those little ones, by the poor. The shepherds. They were the most simple people, and closest to the Lord. They found him because they lived in the fields, “keeping watch over their flocks by night” (Lk 2:8). They were there to work, because they were poor. They had no timetables in life; everything depended on the flock. They could not live where and how they wanted, but on the basis of the needs of the sheep they tended. That is where Jesus is born: close to them, close to the forgotten ones of the peripheries. He comes where human dignity is put to the test. He comes to ennoble the excluded and he first reveals himself to them: not to educated and important people, but to poor working people. God tonight comes to fill with dignity the austerity of labour. He reminds us of the importance of granting dignity to men and women through labour, but also of granting dignity to human labour itself, since man is its master and not its slave. On the day of Life, let us repeat: no more deaths in the workplace! And let us commit ourselves to ensuring this [Pope Francis, 2021.12.24].

The fact that a pro-life Christian call for worker rights sounds contradictory only illustrates how disconnected from core Christian values are the American right-wing politicians who wage war on true Christmas virtues. That contradiction in practice deceives its followers, who fail to grasp the foundational, healthy contradiction in principle of the radical Christian faith to which Pope Francis calls mankind on this holy day.

Get in your Christmas groove: serve the worker, serve the poor, serve the true spirit of a religion based on a baby born in poverty.


  1. larry kurtz 2021-12-25

    The Roman church is a criminal enterprise.

    If the pope was a general he’d be disciplined maybe even court-martialed for covering up crimes committed by the service members in his command.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-25

    Can you get off leaping in to dominate every thread with your agenda, for just a moment, Larry? The Pope’s message is true. Maybe we can get more mileage today out of promoting true Christianity than dwelling on anti-Catholicism.

  3. Bob Newland 2021-12-25

    Yeah, Larry, go do some last-second shopping.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-25

    Pope Francis calls on all Christians to live up to the true meaning of their faith. His own inevitable human failings and the failings of the global organization he leads do not excuse and should not overshadow the willful perversion of Christian ideals by right-wing politicians and corporate raiders to oppress workers and the poor.

  5. grudznick 2021-12-25

    From grudznick.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  6. Bob Newland 2021-12-25

    Now who’s hijacking your post?

  7. Guy 2021-12-25

    It’s not about the person delivering the message, in this case Pope Francis. It’s about the MESSAGE itself. What to learn from the MESSAGE. There’s a POWERFUL TRUTH in this message on “littleness”. Happy Holidays to Cory and everyone!

  8. Guy 2021-12-25

    Merry Christmas, Grudz.

  9. Porter Lansing 2021-12-25

    Merry Christmas to you, too grudz.

    May all your dreams come true.

    2022 is my “Year of Disney” and I’m already feeling grand …

  10. Porter Lansing 2021-12-25

    May God guide me.
    To serve the worker, serve the poor, serve the true spirit of a religion based on a baby born in poverty.
    amen …

  11. larry kurtz 2021-12-25

    I don’t dominate every thread here but devoting service to the Earth and calling out hypocrisies like the Gregorian calendar are parts of my agenda, for sure.

  12. Jake 2021-12-25

    Kurtz and any other “naysayers” should take a read of a certain Dorothy Day and cogitate a little while on her ongoing message of “littleness” of her movement. Rather like the nun in Calcutta in the pandemic a generation ago, focused on the poor and small, sick of society. Larry. you sadly are on the side of the cpnservatives fighting hard Pope Francis’ agendas, just like the GOP is fighting Bidens’ –but not to compare them in any other way.

    PRIDE= the #1 sin and downfall of all who carry too much of it!

  13. Donald Pay 2021-12-25

    The problem with Christianity is the damn Christians. Of course, the story in Luke of Jesus’ birth is the part of Luke that was largely fiction, or badly mangled history. He had sources for other parts of his Gospel, borrowing heavily from Mark and from another source of Jesus sayings. There is a huge problem with the account in Luke that is referred to by Pope Francis. Luke’s dates and timing for the census are off, and there would be no need to travel to Bethlehem. Sure, Jesus was born. He was a real person, but Luke was writing a couple generations after Jesus died, and fudging a bit after the fact in order to place Jesus in the line of David. That would provide him some cover for being the messiah.

  14. Porter Lansing 2021-12-25

    I’m a bit of a cinephile, watching on average 130 new movies a year.
    -The contrast between the conservative Pope Benedict, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins and the liberal Pope Francis, by Jonathan Pryce, in
    “THE TWO POPES”, is entertaining and enlightening in the film’s dialogs and fascinating in it’s scenery.
    -Many scenes were produced within the Vatican and many in the Papal summer retreat.

  15. sx123 2021-12-25

    Ha, he’s asking a lot considering many refuse to have their lifestyles inconvenienced by covid and do what needs to be/should done to help improve the situation.

  16. Mark Anderson 2021-12-25

    Let’s leave politics out for today. Happy Holidays!

  17. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-25

    There’s a billboard near my house on the Fall River Road/US 385/US18 that reads “Serve the Poor Like Jesus Did.”
    Apparently local Christians find it so offensive it will be removed soon, if not already. Can’t be havin’ no po’ folks around here, ya know; some of them might actually be “colored.” Next time I drive into Hot Springs I’ll see if it’s still there.

  18. grudznick 2021-12-25

    It’s there, Ms. Fairbank, right by that nasty little campground across the highway. Our good friend Bob drives by it often, and it makes him wish he didn’t have to eat yet another Maverick Junction hot dog.

  19. Mark Anderson 2021-12-25

    You know Bonnie, on the back window of our Jeep we have in small white letters “do you follow Jesus this close”. It’s about as close as we get to Jesus too.

  20. leslie 2021-12-26

    “Today, all is turned upside down”

    It annoys me to no end that BCB, here, with our “champion of the poor’s” Republican leanings, defends the tax evasion of the massively rich with the tired trope that, “legal tax avoidance” via SD’s new burgeoning secret trust industry (championed by deceased young outspoken Republican Rapid City lawyer/legislator/Jackley’s law firm partner, along with infamous young Sara Frankenstein Esq., David Lust), is somehow OK.

    Remember: “The Department of Justice brought charges against the Baltimore Daily Post, a Scripps [billionaire’s] paper, for publishing information from tax returns, and it also charged editors of a Kansas City newspaper. The law, the attorney general’s office contended, made this information “open to inspection only” and didn’t allow for publication. When lower courts ruled in favor of the paper and editors, the solicitor general took the case to the Supreme Court.

    In 1925, the Supreme Court sided with the papers, finding that all forms of publicity, including publication in newspapers, were allowed under the law.

    That victory was short-lived. In 1926, Congress limited the right to inspect the returns to its investigative committees. Under a new law, the information in tax returns only became public if the president ordered it so. Who did lawmakers put in charge of writing the rules for such disclosure? [Billionaire Andrew] Mellon.”

    I didn’t realize Mitch McConnell was THAT old! ;)

    Now Sen Thune, McConnell’s protege, prepares to hand off his own “inherited” power to Governor Noem in much the same way inheritance tax tax evasion prompts SD to “fund” its new tax evading trust secrecy laws with a local Republican state legislature that passes every new annual trust law amendment the trust industry writes up. They DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND THE TRUST LAWS THEY KEEP PASSING!

    The Great Inheritors: How Three
    Families Shielded Their Fortunes From
    Taxes for Generations

    PROPUBLICA by Patricia Callahan, James Bandler, Justin Elliott, Doris Burke and Jeff Ernsthausen, Dec. 15, 2021

  21. Eve Fisher 2021-12-26

    The Sheep and the Goats: Matthew 31:45:
    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

  22. Porter Lansing 2021-12-26

    Thank-you, Eve. :)

  23. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-26

    Mr. grudznick. I thank you for your good friend Bob’s report.
    Are you or were you a Donald J. Trump voter/supporter?

  24. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-26

    Well…I like the Pope from South America. The next one will probably be from Africa. It is hard to turn that ship around, byt they are trying.

  25. larry kurtz 2021-12-26

    Our desire to consume any and everything of perceivable value – to extract every precious stone, every ounce of metal, every drop of oil, every tuna in the ocean, every rhinoceros in the bush – knows no bounds. We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess.

    Desmond Tutu, 2014

  26. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-26

    Grudz–this was a trick question. The billboard is directly across the highway from property owners that have nothing to do with “that nasty little campground” that used to be a sheep ranch owned by an influential Reptilain family. If your good friend Bob had paid any attention at all, he should have noticed the Trump flag flying proudly over that nasty little campground up-canyon.
    This reply, of course, has nothing to do with Christianity, serving the poor, or even being human.

  27. grudznick 2021-12-26

    What was the trick part?

  28. grudznick 2021-12-26

    Ms. Fairbank, I am not nor have I ever been a Donald Trump supporter. I have stated many times that I did not vote for Mr. Trump, I was an Enormous Johnson supporter back when Mr. Trump beat Ms. Clinton (and I blame Ms. Clinton for much) and I was a Jo Johnson supporter here the other year when Mr. Biden won.

    grudznick is a past president of the Conservatives with Common Sense, Ms. Fairbank. I cannot support those insaner than most, like Mr. Trump. Plus is is very uncivil and is literally an out-of-state name-caller. You know I disrespect out-of-state name-callers.

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