Brothers Tom, Ronan and Denis before the Crib in Athlone friary.

At his Christmas Mass, Pope Francis spoke of how we must recognise the Christ Child present in the children of today.

“Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also allow ourselves to be challenged by the children of today’s world, who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father.

These babies who suffer the squalid mangers that devour dignity: hiding underground to escape bombardment, lying on the pavements of a large city, or at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants.

Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who do have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.”

Pope Francis also invited us to come to humble Christ with all our own needs and brokenness.

“Let us go to him with trust, from that area in us we feel to be marginalized, from our own limitations.

Let us touch the tenderness which saves.

Let us draw close to God who draws close to us, let us pause to look upon the crib, and imagine the birth of Jesus: light, peace, utmost poverty, and rejection.

Let us enter into the real Nativity with the shepherds, taking to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds. Then, in Jesus we will enjoy the flavour of the true spirit of Christmas: the beauty of being loved by God.

With Mary and Joseph we pause before the manger, before Jesus who is born as bread for my life.

Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us say to him: thank you, thank you because you have done all this for me.”