The liturgical celebration of Christmas, then, is not only a remembrance but is above all a mystery; it is not only a memory but also a presence. To appreciate the meaning of these two indissoluble aspects, one must live intensely the whole Christmas season as the Church presents it. If we consider it in a broad sense, it extends for 40 days, from Dec. 25 to Feb. 2, from the celebration of Christmas Eve to Mary's Maternity, to the Epiphany, to the Baptism of Jesus, to the wedding of Cana, to the Presentation in the Temple, precisely in analogy with Eastertide, which forms a unity of 50 days, until Pentecost. The manifestation of God in the flesh is the event that revealed Truth in history. In fact, the date Dec. 25, linked with the idea of the appearance of the sun -- God who appears as a light that doesn't set on the horizon of history -- reminds us that this is not just an idea: that God is the fullness of light, but rather a reality for us men that is already fulfilled and always present. Today, as then, God reveals himself in the flesh, namely, in the "living body" of the Church journeying in time, and, in the sacraments, he gives us salvation today.
Benedict XVI, Wednesday General Audience, 5 January 2011.