JERUSALEM, DEC. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Like the shepherds, we are materially or spiritually poor, and we must go to Bethlehem for answers to problems that “lacerate our souls,” says the Custos of the Holy Land.
Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa stated this in his Christmas message of Tuesday. He recalled the poor shepherds of Bethlehem to whom angels appeared with a message of glory to God and “peace to men who believe in love.”
He said, “The harshness of the history we are living tries to clad our hearts in iron armor, to suffocate life.” Yet, he added, how can we resist believing that there is truth in this angelic proclamation, announced to us as well, that God has come to bring us hope too?
Like the shepherds, he said, who ran to the stable, “we too, despite everything, become seekers of joy.” Though we lack the “rough simplicity” of the shepherds, “the anxiety in our hearts and the need for light are the same.”
The Custos continued: “The torments that today most brutally afflict society are of an economic nature. All of a sudden, we are all threatened by a wind of uncertainty, which shakes every illusion of self-sufficiency from the foundations. Materialistic society discovers with dismay its deepest fragility.
“Being poor, or becoming poor, becomes a real possibility for everyone. But this is only the outward sign of a deeper poverty that afflicts the soul.”
Father Pizzaballa described a traditional Christmas Eve pilgrimage to Bethlehem made by the Franciscan friars in the region. He added, “And I am sure that an infinite multitude of invisible pilgrims, in the mysterious ways of the spirit, will set off with us to seek joy.”
He continued: “Together we will find that helpless Child who, in the cold of the grotto, is not afraid of being poor, because he brings us the love of God.
“At Christmas, from the suffering and lacerated Holy Land itself, there comes the message that can change the world. Come to Bethlehem, with a simple heart and the encounter with the Child Jesus will cancel all your fears. There is still hope for all!”
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Full text: www.custodia.org/spip.php?article4375