Pope Francis spread the word of unconditional love in his Christmas Eve mass in the Vatican late on Tuesday.
The leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics led the service in St. Peter’s Basilica for thousands of people as well as those watching on large screens outside.
“Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us,” Francis said in his sermon.
He addressed the crowds gathered at the Vatican, “You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you. How often do we think that God is good if we are good and punishes us if we are bad? Yet that is not how he is.”
The 266th Pope continued his sermon by saying: “Let us contemplate the child and let ourselves be caught up in his tender love. Then we have no further excuse for not letting ourselves be loved by him.”
“Whatever goes wrong in our lives,” he continued. “Whatever doesn’t work in the church, whatever problems there are in the world, will no longer serve as an excuse.”
The 83-year-old added, “It will become secondary, for faced with Jesus’ extravagant love, a love of utter meekness and closeness, we have no excuse.”
Unlike the Christmas Eve sermon, his message the following day is typically more about the significance of Christmas amid the conflicts of contemporary society.
In the run up to the sermon, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby offered messages of support for conflict-ridden South Sudan, a predominantly Christian country.
“We wish to extend to you and to all the people of South Sudan our best wishes for your peace and prosperity … as you strive for a swift implementation of peace agreements,” the religious leaders said in a joint statement.
The majority of Egyptian Copts celebrate Christmas on 7 January which is a national holiday.
Celebrators usually attend masses and prayers in their churches, enjoying the religious festival with their families and beloved ones.
Christmas is an annual religious festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated by Christians across the world.
Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb greeted Egypt’s Catholics, adding that Muslims can greet and exchange gifts with non-Muslims during their religious celebrations. He explained that tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians, and congratulating each other during holidays, weddings, and social events, is not only acceptable but “desirable.”