Pope: humanity chooses wars and violence, while God becomes man to engage in dialogue with us
Francis centred his Urbi et orbi message on the lack of dialogue, not only between States, but also between people, as evinced by violence against women and the tendency “to look the other way” at the sufferings of those forced to leave their homeland. Choosing the Word and the “grace of littleness” means “to believe that God desires to come into the little things of our life; he wants to inhabit our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school and in the workplace.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis delivered his traditional Christmas message followed by the Urbi et Orbi blessing (to the city and the world) to thousands of pilgrims gathered in a rain-soaked St Peter’s Square. Representatives of Italy’s Armed Forces were present once again to salute the Pope after last year’s no-show due to the pandemic.
In his address, the pontiff focused on Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Ukraine, whose wars and tensions show how humanity chooses violence over dialogue, unlike the Word “made flesh” to show “the way of encounter and dialogue”.
The lack of dialogue is not only an issue that separates countries, but also affects interpersonal relations, as evinced by violence against women and our tendency to “look the other way” when it comes to the sufferings of those forced to leave their homeland.
Francis first noted that, “God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dialogue, an eternal and infinite communion of love and life.”
The pandemic has shown what the world would be without the capacity and willingness to dialogue. “Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tried; there is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together. On the international level too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than setting out on the longer paths of dialogue. Yet only those paths can lead to the resolution of conflicts and to lasting benefits for all.”
Francis spoke about the world’s many crises, like the one in Syria, whose people “have experienced a war,” and this “for more than a decade” resulting “in many victims and an untold number of displaced persons.” Then there is “Iraq, which still struggles to recover from a lengthy conflict” and “the cry of children arising from Yemen, where an enormous tragedy, overlooked by everyone, has silently gone on for years”.
The Pope went on to mention “the continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without a resolution,” and Lebanon, “which is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, accompanied by very troubling economic and social conditions.”
From the Middle East, the pontiff turned his attention to Myanmar, “where intolerance and violence not infrequently target the Christian community and its places of worship, clouding the peaceful countenance of that people”, as well as Afghanistan, a country “sorely tested by conflicts” that have lasted “for more than forty years” from where many “have driven”, forced “to leave”.
Other places the pontiff mentioned are Sudan, Ethiopia, North Africa and the Sahel, as well as Ukraine and its “long-festering conflict”. In the Americas, may God “Grant that, through dialogue, mutual respect and recognition of the rights and cultural values of every human being, the values of solidarity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence may prevail.”
Moving from the wider world to the reality of ordinary people, Francis said: “Son of God, comfort the victims of violence against women, which has increased in this time of pandemic. Offer hope to young children and adolescents suffering from bullying and abuse. Show consolation and warmth to the elderly, especially those who feel most alone. Give serenity and unity to families, the first educators of their children and the basis of the fabric of society.
“God-with-us, grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects. Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most. Repay those who generously devote themselves to caring for family members, the sick and the most vulnerable in our midst.
“Child of Bethlehem, grant that the many military and civilian prisoners of war and recent conflicts, and all those imprisoned for political reasons, may soon return home. Do not leave us indifferent before the tragic situation of migrants, displaced persons and refugees. Their eyes beg us not to look the other way, ignoring our common humanity, but instead to make their stories our own and to be mindful of their plight.
“Eternal Word become flesh, make us attentive to our common home, which is suffering from the carelessness with which we so often treat it. Inspire political leaders to reach effective agreements, so that future generations can live in an environment respectful of life.
“Dear brothers and sisters, amid all the many problems of our time, hope prevails, ‘For a child is born to us’ (Is 9:5). He is the word of God, who became an infant, capable only of crying, and in need of help for everything. He wished to learn how to speak, like every other child, so that we might learn to listen to God, our Father, to listen to one another and to dialogue as brothers and sisters.”
Francis spoke about human relations last night as well, during the Christmas Eve Mass when he said: “God tonight comes to fill with dignity the austerity of labour. He reminds us of the importance of granting dignity to men and women through labour, but also of granting dignity to human labour itself, since man is its master and not its slave. On the day of Life, let us repeat: no more deaths in the workplace! And let us commit ourselves to ensuring this.”
Talking about the “grace of littleness” in his homily, Francis asked: “What does it mean, concretely, to accept littleness?” It means, “In the first place, [. . .] to believe that God desires to come into the little things of our life; he wants to inhabit our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school and in the workplace.”