‘God stronger than darkness & corruption’: Pope delivers Christmas message

‘God stronger than darkness & corruption’: Pope delivers Christmas message
Pope Francis wished courage and warmth for the world in his Christmas Eve mass homily, as God is stronger than “darkness and corruption.” He also made a phone call to Iraqi refugees who fled ISIS violence, saying that they are “like Jesus” on this night.

“Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption,” said the pontiff, leading a mass for thousands of Catholics in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican.

The 78-year-old added that God does not know “outbursts of anger or impatience.”

“He is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns,” he said.

Pope Francis kneels as he leads the Christmas night mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2014 (Reuters / Max Rossi)

The pope asked the believers if they have “the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us?"

“Or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!”

READ MORE:Pope blasts Vatican bureaucrats for ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’, lists their 15 sins

“Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him.”

This is Pope Francis’ second Christmas as pope, having been elected pontiff in March 2013.

On Thursday morning, he will deliver his traditional Christmas Day blessing, called ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) from the balcony of St. Peter's Square to tens of thousands of believers.

‘You're like Jesus on this night’ – Pope to Iraqi refugees

Hours before the Christmas Eve mass the pontiff made a telephone call to a Christian refugee camp in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where people have fled to escape the atrocities of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants.

READ MORE:Pope brands ISIS violence in Syria, Iraq ‘grave sin against God’

"You're like Jesus on this night, and I bless you and am close to you," he said in the call broadcast live by TV2000, the television of the Italian bishops’ conference. "I embrace you all and wish for you a holy Christmas."

The pope said he particularly thinks about “the children and elderly.”

"Innocent children, children who have died, exploited children.... I am thinking, too, about grandparents, about the older people who have lived their lives, and who must now bear this cross."

READ MORE:Pope Francis says ‘unjust aggressor’ ISIS must be stopped, rejects new Iraq ‘conquest’

The pontiff repeatedly condemned violence inflicted by IS extremists in Iraq and Syria, saying that it is a "profoundly grave sin against God."