12/24/2019, 15.00
HOLY LAND
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Christmas: Archbishop Pizzaballa notes that Christ was born for the heart of man, not power

In his message to the faithful, the prelate says Jesus did not end political, social and economic dramas. Yet, the faithful should not "give up". The increasing number of pilgrims is bringing "smiles" to many families. The archbishop thanks volunteers for their commitment. So far, 189 permits have been issued for Gaza Christians, 11 for Catholics.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, released a Christmas message for the faithful in the Holy Land, sent to AsiaNews for wider circulation. In it, the prelate sees parallels between the times of Jesus and ours.

Christ’s birth, writes the prelate, did not erase “any of the political, social and economic dramas of his time. Jesus did not come to revolutionize the social structures of his time, he did not want to conquer power, but the heart of man. That’s how the world changed.”

Thus, “woe to those who give up! That is not the message of Christmas.” The people of the Holy Land “must deal with the fragility of political life, perceived increasingly distant from the real life of the population and apparently unable to deal systematically with the enormous social and economic problems of our region.

“In this context, it is difficult to see how it is possible to give even the slightest prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian question [. . .] We see so many solution proposals flying over our heads, [. . .] we never see [. . .] something concrete.”

The survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land faces many challenges, ranging from the political situation in Israel to extremist violence in Gaza, from the issue of permits for Gaza Christians (189 so far, including 11 for Catholics) to the Christian exodus from the region.

 “[T]he times of Jesus were no better than ours. There was the Roman occupation, there was Herod, there were various centers of power. All in all, man does not seem to have changed much since then.”

Still there is something positive. “The arrival of more and more pilgrims from all over the world brings smiles to many families, who can thus work with serenity.” For locals, “work remains the main problem” as it does for “many foreign and immigrant workers”, so much so that leaving “becomes a temptation [. . .] [E]verything seems to tell us that talking about hope is simple rhetoric”.

“My thoughts and my thanks, then, are addressed to the many [. . .] who with love, in silence, and without clamor, still today give their lives and their hearts for free”, most notably, the parents who teach their children, and the operators and volunteers in hospitals, seniors homes, disabled centres. This confirms the Church’s social work in the Holy Land.

“[T]o those who have understood that being a Christian means giving life, loving free, without waiting for anything for themselves, because they already have everything. They are people who have in their hearts a great hope, a sincere and profound desire that takes them outside of themselves and is attentive to others.”

“Among our many contradictions, in fact, I met everywhere happy people, dedicated with constancy to the service of their family, their community, their reality of life.

“They are the hope of our Church. In them, true Christmas is still celebrated.

“May their example and their lives continue to change the hearts of so many. I am sure that this is the only way we can truly make our tormented Holy Land happy.”

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