Pope urges youth to reflect on Christmas

The star and the manger are 'gifts from God'

(ANSA) - Rome, January 5 - Pope Francis encouraged young people gathered to see him during a visit to a Franciscan shrine near Rieti east of Rome on Monday to reflect on the signs contained in the Christmas story, according to a copy of his address published on the Rieti diocesan website Tuesday.
    "In life there are many signs, many signals," Francis said.
    The first is the star that guided the Magi, the pope said.
    "The sky is full of stars, but there is a special one that led them to...begin a journey without knowing where it would lead," Francis said.
    "We need to ask for the grace to discover 'the star' that God wants to show me today, because that star will lead me to Jesus," he continued.
    The second sign in the Christmas gospel is the humbleness of the Christ child lying in the manger. "God lowered himself, he annihilated himself to become like us, to walk in front of us...God who goes against pride, conceit, arrogance," Francis said.
    "I hope that your lives will always be accompanied by these two signs, which are a gift of God," he said.
    "May you never lack the star or the humility to rediscover Jesus in the humble, the poor, the social outcasts," he continued. The pope also joked with the young people about their presence at Greccio.
    Monsignor Domenico Pompili, bishop of Rieti, "led me to understand that it would be a good thing to pray at Greccio over Christmas and so I have come to pray. But I do not know what ruse he used to draw you here," he quipped. On Monday the Vatican said only the prior of the shrine and the Bishop of Rieti, Msgr Domenico Pompili, knew about the visit.