Pope Francis, who turned 86 last month, arrived at St. Peter’s Basilica in a wheelchair. He sat in a white chair in front of the congregation for the Mass.
In his homily for the Marian solemnity, Pope Francis encouraged everyone to see the new year as an opportunity to do good by sharing God’s love with “the people next door, the people who live in the same building, the people we meet each day on the street.”
“At the beginning of this year, among all the other things that we would like to do and experience, let us devote some time to seeing, to opening our eyes and to keeping them open before what really matters: God and our brothers and sisters,” he said.
The pope urged Catholics to imitate the shepherds in Bethlehem by “setting out in haste” to serve others.
“Today, at the beginning of the year, rather than standing around, thinking and hoping that things will change, we should instead ask ourselves: ‘This year, where do I want to go? Who is it that I can help? So many people, in the Church and in society, are waiting for the good that you and you alone can do, they are waiting for your help,” Francis said.
“Today, amid the lethargy that dulls our senses, the indifference that paralyzes our hearts, and the temptation to waste time glued to a keyboard in front of a computer screen, the shepherds are summoning us to set out and get involved in our world, to dirty our hands and to do some good.”
Prayers were said for the soul of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the first papal Mass of the new year on Jan. 1, 2023, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Courtney Mares/CNA
Like the shepherds, Christians should also prioritize time in the new year to contemplate “the Christ Child resting in his mother’s arms,” the pope added.
He asked: “How many times, in our busy lives, do we fail to stop, even for a moment, to be close to the Lord and to hear his word, to say a prayer, to adore and praise him?”
On Jan. 1, the Catholic Church also celebrates the World Day of Peace, a tradition established by Pope Paul VI and confirmed by Pope John Paul II.