Pope Francis on Tuesday, Dec. 24, sent a message to the faithful, “The Lord continues to love you,” even “the worst of us” as he celebrated Christmas Eve midnight Mass at the Vatican.

Speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Basilica, the 83-year-old pope said the birth of Jesus is a reminder of God’s unconditional love for everyone.

“Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us. To me, to you, to each of us, he says today, ‘I love you and I will always love you, for you are precious in my eyes,’” the pontiff said.

“God does not love you because you think and act the right way. He loves you, plain and simple. His love is unconditional; it does not depend on you,” he continued.

“You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you,” he said.

Cardinals sit as Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Dec. 24, 2019. (Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo)

Pope Francis also called for the faithful to stop trying to change others.

“May we not wait for our neighbors to be good before we do good to them, for the church to be perfect before we love her, for others to respect us before we serve them. Let us begin with ourselves,” he said.

In a series of tweets on Christmas Eve, the pope also encouraged the true faithful people, saying the light of God will shine forth in them.

“Tonight, in the beauty of God’s love, we also discover our own beauty, for we are beloved of God. In His eyes we are beautiful: not for what we do but for what we are,” he wrote.

Includes reporting from The Associated Press and the BBC

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