To all those praying for peace in the world but especially in the Middle East, the Pope's words today have rich meaning.
Noting the prophecies regarding the town of Judea in the Book of Micah, which foretell a "mysterious birth," the Holy Father spoke of the "divine plan that includes and explains the times and places of the coming of the Son of God into the world."
"It is a plan of peace," the Pontiff noted, adding that it makes Bethlehem a "city-symbol of peace in the Holy Land and in the whole world."
"Unfortunately," he explained, "Bethlehem does not represent an achieved and stable peace, but rather a peace that is laboriously sought and awaited.
"God, however, never resigns himself to this state of affairs. So, once again this year in Bethlehem and in the entire world, he will renew in the Church the mystery of Christmas, the prophecy of peace for all mankind."
"Christmas is not a fairytale for children," Benedict XVI continued, "but rather God's answer to the drama of humanity in search of peace."
"We are expected to throw open the doors to welcome him," the Pope said, referring to the Messiah. "Let us put ourselves at the service of God's plan with faith.
"Even if we do not fully understand it, let us entrust ourselves to his wisdom and goodness. Let us first seek the Kingdom of God and Providence will help us."