Pope to Vatican employees: Serve Church in hiddenness and littleness

Pope Francis holds his customary exchange of Christmas greetings with Vatican employees, and encourages them to bear Christian witness in the workplace.

By Devin Watkins

“God hides Himself in the littleness of a Child being born”.

Pope Francis took the twin words of “hiddenness and littleness” as the focal point of his Christmas greetings to employees of the Vatican on Thursday.

As he does every year, the Pope exchanged festive greetings with Vatican employees and their families ahead of the celebration of the Lord’s birth.

Hiddenness and littleness

In his prepared remarks, the Holy Father recalled that Jesus’ birth reveals God’s preferred style, “which is neither grandiose nor noisy, but rather a style characterized by hiddenness and littleness.”

“These characteristics,” he said, “convey to us the gentle trait of God, who does not come to us to terrify us with His greatness or to impose Himself with His magnificence, but makes Himself present in the most ordinary way, becoming one of us.”

Pope Francis noted that Jesus was born in a simple stable in Bethlehem, as a sign of God’s desire to be close to all.

“He is the God of the little ones and the last,” said the Pope, “and with Him, we all learn the way to enter the Kingdom of God: not through apparent and artificial religiosity, but by becoming small like children.”

Christian witness at work

Pope Francis went on to invite Vatican employees to imitate Jesus’ hiddenness and littleness in their daily labors.

“Your work here in the Vatican mostly takes place in daily hiddenness, often doing tasks that may seem insignificant but, instead, contribute to providing a service to the Church and society,” he said.

The Pope urged people employed in the Vatican to bear Christian witness in their relations with their colleagues in a “spirit of gratitude, serenity, and humility”.

The Nativity Scene, he added, offers an invitation to simplicity of heart, noting that their work bears fruit and “the perfume of joy” even when it is hidden and invisible.

Love makes no noise

The Holy Father extended his Christmas greetings to the families of Vatican employees as well, noting that our world seeks to put everything on display for the world through the window of social media.

“It’s a bit like wanting precious crystal glasses without worrying whether the wine is good,” he said.

However, in the family, appearances and masks count for little, he said, since family life must be filled with “the good wine of love, tenderness, and mutual understanding” in order to function well.

“And love—as we know well—makes no noise,” he said. “We experience it in the hiddenness and littleness of daily gestures, in the care we know how to exchange.”

Care and concern within families

Pope Francis wrapped up his annual Christmas greetings with an invitation for Vatican employees to care for their families in the model of the Holy Family.

“This is my wish for you: to be attentive, in your homes and families, to the little things of everyday life, to small gestures of gratitude, to the care and concern for one another.”