12/12/2012, 00.00
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AsiaNews, Christmas carols and cathedral windows

by Bernardo Cervellera
In a world trying to stifle the longing for and the presence of God, they are a missionary tool because they draw even non-Christians to Church. The "hymn" of the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, under house arrest for his loyalty to the Pope and Young Rimsha Masih, a 14 year old disabled Christian, accused of blasphemy, and later exonerated, in Pakistan, are just some of the "melodies" that we presented on AsiaNews during the year, their testimonies shine in the dark like the windows of a cathedral.

Rome (AsiaNews) - The Christmas hymns and cathedral windows are an important instrument of mission. In my past Christmases in Beijing on the night of the vigil, the churches were filled - and are still filled - by young non-Christian university students, attracted by the beauty of the carols, the splendour of the light, the warmth and friendship of the faithful. From that encounter, many of them begin to wonder who this God Child is, who is celebrated that night and begin a catechism that will lead them to becoming Christians.

Even during my mission in Hong Kong, not a single year passed without preparing the choirs for "Christmas Carols", to be sung at the ferry, or bus stops, or on the main road near a supermarket. People tired from work or busy shopping, stopping to enjoy the wonderful harmony of voices, with a yearning for beauty that is first step on the road to the longing for God

Benedict XVI, in his recently book published, "The Infancy of Jesus," says that today Christians carols are a continuation of the song of the angels on the night of the first Christmas in Bethlehem: "And suddenly an angel appeared with a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests" (Lk 2.12 to 14). the Evangelist says that the angels "speak." For Christians, it was clear from the start that the speech of angels is sung, in which all the splendour of the great joy they announced is noticeably present. And so, from that hour onwards, the song of praise of the angels has never stopped ... It is understandable that the simple people then heard the shepherds sing, and, to this day, on the Holy Night, they join their melodies expressing the great joy that from then until the end of time is given to all in song "(pp. 87-88).

In our world we have lost the childlike simplicity of looking at the wonder of Christmas, but most of all there is an attempt to stifle the longing for God and His presence, filling ourselves with a presumption of autonomy, power, and consumerism: all ways to escape from emptiness and despair. Separation from God has rendered nature less beautiful and coexistence between us more difficult. Our view of the world has a catastrophic tone, natural and man-made disasters, wars, destruction, oppression and torture. The song of the angels at Christmas and our song remind us that God is present to begin together with man the redemption of beauty.

Among the "angels" that give hope in this year that is drawing to a close, I would like to remember Msgr. Taddeo Ma Daqin, auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, who is still under house arrest. Bishop Ma, 44, has had the courage to oppose a policy that has lasted for over 60 years, which sees the Chinese bishops hostage of the Patriotic Association. Obedient to the faith and the Pope, Msgr. Ma, on his ordination, resigned from the Patriotic Association, to better respond to the pastoral needs of his mandate. In response, the authorities have segregated him the seminary of Sheshan, meaning he is unable to fulfill his ministry. But his witness, his hymn rises over every wall and barrier and over reaches all as a sign of hope for the freedom of the Church in China and the Churches of the world.

Another "angel" - and another hymn - is Rimsha Masih, the 14 year old disabled Christian accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, who in recent weeks was cleared of all charges. In her place an imam was arrested who had staged the burning of pages of the Koran to condemn Rimsha and her family. What impresses is that in Pakistan, for once, justice and truth have triumphed. Paul Batthi, the brother of Shahbaz, who was killed for his fight against blasphemy, called Rimsha Masih's case a sign that "Pakistani society is changing."

Msgr. Ma and Rimsha's "hymns" are only two examples of the "melodies" that we presented here on AsiaNews during the year, their testimonies shine in the dark just like the windows of a cathedral. Dear friends, as the end of the year draws near, we ask you once again to support our mission, our "hymn": without you and without AsiaNews, many windows would remain in the dark.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”