Pope Benedict XVI urged people to spread joy through smiles and acts of kindness, saying it was an antidote to the ills of society.
Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive gifts that cost time and money, but joy," Benedict said in a homily which he delivered without notes for about 15 minutes...
The pope said joy liberates people.
"In today's world, God is absent," Benedict said. "People need anesthesia to live. They live in a dark world."
"With a smile, an act of kindness, a little help, forgiveness, you can bring joy, and that joy will come back to you," he said.
Even though I, along with many Americans, will receive a good deal of gifts this holiday season, I think it's also important to emphasize the giving spirit in ways of charity and love. Like the pope says, an "act of kidness" can be enough to illuminate someone's holiday and give them joy and hope. I'm planning on donating a few extra dollars to my church, and to a special charity (which I haven't picked yet) as my work. And there's always the smiles, the "good mornings", the little things that make daily life more bearable. I think we can all take a little time to smile more, to be kinder to people, to wave to the motorists who let us merge onto the freeway--stuff like that. Like Fr. Benedict Groeschel quoted in his book The Rosary: Light of Life , " 'it can't hurt, and it's free.'"