12/25/2022, 14.05
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Pope at Christmas: Jesus Christ is the path to peace

Message pronounced during urbi et orbi blessing: "Let us overcome the torpor of false images that make people forget the feast day, and as we look at Bethlehem let us fix our gaze on the child victims of World War III." In Myanmar and Iran "cease all bloodshed." Appeal for reconciliation in Ukraine, Syria, Holy Land, Lebanon, Yemen and for Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa plagued by hunger and famine.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "If we want it to be Christmas, the Christmas of Jesus and of peace, let us look to Bethlehem and fix our gaze on the face of the Child who was born for us. And in that small innocent face, let us recognize that of the children who yearn for peace in every part of the world."

This is the invitation Pope Francis entrusts to the world in his urbi et orbi message for this Christmas 2022, dramatically marked by the wounds of what he insists on unashamedly calling the "Third World War."

As every year, the pontiff looked out at noon from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica for the Christmas blessing, accompanied this year by the Marian prayer of the Angelus. He extended his good wishes to people around the world: "May the Lord Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, bring to all of you the love of God, the source of trust and hope; and bring together the gift of peace, which the angels announced to the shepherds of Bethlehem."

"Let us be enveloped in light," the pope continued, "and let us go and see the sign God has given us. Let us overcome the torpor of spiritual slumber and the false images of the feast that make us forget who the feast is. Let us get out of the din that anesthetizes the heart and induces us to prepare decorations and gifts rather than to contemplate the Event: the Son of God born for us."

In this time when "winds of war continue to blow icy over humanity," Francesco asks us to stop and listen again to "the first wailing of the Prince of Peace."

Quoting St. Leo the Great, he recalls "the Christmas of the Lord is the Christmas of peace. The word most invoked today finds its way in Jesus Christ, because "He, by his incarnation, passion, death and resurrection, opened the passage from a closed world, oppressed by the darkness of enmity and war, to an open world, free to live in fraternity and peace."

Christmas is about following this path. But to do so, it is also necessary today to get rid of those "burdens" that prevented King Herod from recognizing and welcoming the birth of Jesus: "attachment to power and money, pride, hypocrisy, lies." Weights that dramatically still "exclude from the grace of Christmas and close access to the way of peace" in too many parts of the world.

Francis exhorts, "may our gaze be filled with the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, who are living this Christmas in darkness, in the cold or far from their homes, because of the destruction caused by ten months of war. May the Lord make us ready for concrete gestures of solidarity to help those who are suffering, and enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the weapons and put an immediate end to this senseless war."

But on this Christmas Day, the news coming from the front dramatically points to another path. "Unfortunately," the Pope comments bitterly, "people prefer to listen to other reasons, dictated by the logic of the world. But the voice of the Child, who listens to it?"

It is not only happening in the heart of Europe: our time is experiencing "a serious famine of peace in other regions as well."

Syria, "tormented by a conflict that has faded into the background but is not over," Francis listed. The Holy Land, where deaths and injuries in clashes have again increased in recent months.

"We implore the Lord," the Pope comments, "that there, in the land that saw his birth, dialogue and the search for mutual trust between Israelis and Palestinians may resume. But the gaze on the Middle East also dwells on Lebanon, "so that it may finally rise again, with the support of the international community and with the strength of brotherhood and solidarity."

And then the Sahel region, "where the peaceful coexistence of peoples and traditions is disrupted by clashes and violence"; Yemen still seeking "a lasting truce."

And then Myanmar, wracked by civil war for two years now, and Iran of the extremely harsh crackdown on protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini. He mentions them together, Pope Francis, wishing for "an end to all bloodshed."

Without forgetting the American continent, shaken by political and social tensions affecting various countries, "I am thinking in particular of the Haitian people," the pontiff adds, "who have been suffering for so long."

Wars that, as always, are intertwined with the scourge of hunger, which especially affects children "while every day large quantities of food are wasted and resources are spent on weapons." Among the regions most affected by famine he cites Afghanistan and the countries of the Horn of Africa.

He denounces the use of food as a weapon: "Let us all commit ourselves, first of all those who have political responsibilities, so that food is only an instrument of peace."

But he also invites not to forget those families who "in this time of economic crisis, struggle because of unemployment and lack the necessities of life"; the many "refugees and displaced persons who knock on our doors in search of comfort, warmth and food"; "the marginalized, the lonely, the orphans and the elderly who risk ending up discarded, the imprisoned whom we look at only for their mistakes and not as human beings."

He concludes by quoting the words on Christmas of another Church father, St. Gregory Nazianzen: "He who is the source of all good becomes poor and asks for our poor humanity in alms. Let us be moved by God's love, and follow Jesus, who stripped himself of his glory to make us sharers in his fullness."

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