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On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis Calls on Christians to Rejoice

Pope Francis is seen officiating Christmas eve mass at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 24, 2013.
Pope Francis is seen officiating Christmas eve mass at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 24, 2013.
VOA News
Pope Francis has urged the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to rejoice this Christmas because "Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness" and brings peace.

The pontiff delivered his first Christmas Eve homily as pope during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Tuesday.

His homily focused on humans' historical and personal journey for a promised land and salvation - and in the pope's words - "the spirit of people who walk to see a great light."

Francis, known for his humility and service to the poor, said every person has "both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows." He urged the faithful to journey forward with an open heart and cast aside pride, deceit and self-seeking ways.

He said God revealed grace, mercy and love through Jesus, who guides the world. The pontiff closed by saying, "Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace."

The Argentine-born Francis was elected pope in March, a month after the surprise resignation of Emeritus Pope Benedict.

Since then, the 78-year-old Francis' popularity has soared and he has been praised for helping to reshape the image of the church.

In December, Time magazine named him "Person of the Year," and lauded his call for the healing of the masses who face disease, poverty and personal turmoil in their lives.

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