The Musallam family puts final touches on a Christmas tree at their apartment in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Dec 15. CNS photo The Musallam family puts final touches on a Christmas tree at their apartment in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Dec 15. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – The light of Christ has not dimmed over the past 2,000 years, but Christians today have an obligation to resist attempts to extinguish it, knowing that whenever societies have tried to pretend God did not exist, tragedy followed, Pope Benedict XVI said.

He made his remarks on Dec 14 during a morning audience with civic leaders and pilgrims from the town of Pescopennataro and the province of Isneria, which donated a 24-m silver fir tree for St Peter’s Square.

At the audience earlier, Pope Benedict said the gift of the tree was a sign of the faith and religiosity of the southern Italian communities that also donated smaller trees for the Apostolic Palace.

Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah as “a great light for the people who walked in darkness”, the pope said. “God became human and lived among us to scatter the darkness of error and sin, bringing humanity His divine light.”

“This great light – of which the Christmas tree is a sign and a reminder – not only hasn’t dimmed with the passing of centuries and millennia, but continues to shine on us and enlighten each person who comes into this world, especially when we go through moments of uncertainty and difficulty,” the pope said. - CNS

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