JERUSALEM, DEC. 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Christmas message from the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
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“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
Christmas is the story of a God, who has come to hide, in a field.
Hidden, in becoming small, the son of man, a child, like every other child.
Hidden, in being born in silence, in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem, a tiny village in a small country, lying on the very edge of an immense empire, in a land which then, like today, does not know peace.
Christmas is also a story of fields and treasures, of men who find the field and the treasure.
Many learn the news that the treasure is right there, in that field!
Unfortunately, not all of them look for it, not all of them find it and not all of them leave everything to get it.
To come into possession of the treasure, first of all, you must get rid of everything.
This is the only way!
It’s not enough to find the treasure, it’s not enough to know where it is.
You have to stake your life on it.
The Scriptures are the story of this treasure, hidden in the field, which is the heart of man.
Because every field and every heart, can hide the treasure.
The Scriptures are the story of many men, like us, who have staked everything in the face of this discovery.
Abraham left his land and his gods.
Moses lost the safety of his small exile.
David questioned himself, with all his being, including his sin.
Job had to lose everything to be able to know God.
And then the prophets, who lead us to the Magi, to the shepherds, to the poor widow, to all the children of the Gospel…
None of them hesitated.
In the face of this discovery and this encounter, these people realized that the event was the decisive one, the meaning and heart of everything, in front of which everything else finds the right dimension.
You do not find the treasure by chance, you do not own half of it.
The treasure has the bright colours of everything that is radical and absolute.
You have to lose absolutely everything in order to have it.
Those who love, lose everything. Because loving means losing everything and giving everything.
Jesus Himself was the first person to take this risk, hidden in the field of Bethlehem, in the hope that everyone could find Him.
He was the one to inaugurate the road of losing, He lost everything and found man again. Like the man who loses everything, he finds God.
Faith is risking entering the road of those who, like Him, can forget themselves in favour of others – whoever they are – and can take on the attitudes that derive from this: forgiveness, welcome, listening, solidarity …
The path of losing, marked out by these stages, becomes the path of finding.
Those who take this path, find God, the brother finds himself.
Life is transformed this way.
It may be – usually it is this way – that outside nothing seems to change, that history and, in particular the history of our Holy Land, continues to be the dramatic reality that we see and experience: hatred, divisions, fears, suspicions, prejudice, paralysis…
But inside, everything changes!
The way of looking at life changes, the way of being changes and – by grace!- we are pleased with this life, because this life is not only a field, but it is the field that hides the treasure.
The wish, for this Christmas, is to become people who lose themselves, in their story, in searching for God.
And, in their desire for Him, find themselves, in the amazing discovery that this treasure is truly in the field of life, ours and the lives of those who are alongside us.
Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Custos of the Holy Land