Pope Francis celebrated his first Christmas Mass on Tuesday night at the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica. He preached messages of forgiveness, humility and acceptance, which have defined in his first nine months as pontiff.
The pope celebrated a two-and-a-half hour mass with 300 cardinals, bishops, and priests. Roughly 10,000 people packed into the Basilica or stood outside in the square watching the ceremony on screens.
"On this night, let us share the joy of the Gospel. God loves us. He so loves us that he gave us his son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats, 'Do not be afraid,' ... And I, too, repeat, do not be afraid,'" the pope said, seeking to reform the Church's image from one of judgement and stringent institutionalism to inclusion and openness.
In continuing his message of humility, Francis, rather than an aide, carried a statue of the baby Jesus up the aisle of the church and spoke of the Church's mission to help others just as Jesus "made salvation possible for the whole human race."
The 77-year-old pope also spoke of Jesus' coming as bring light to the world, saying that those who hate walk in the darkness. "There are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows," Francis said in his homily. "If our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us."
On Christmas morning, Francis delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" to St. Peter's Square, and things sure look different from last year: