Christmas is the celebration of God’s waiting, says the custos of the Holy Land — God waiting for us to make room for him.


Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa proposed this reflection in his annual Christmas message, posted Tuesday.

“Christmas,” he said, “cannot fail to make us uncomfortable: It is a celebration that seems to have lost its most intimate and truest meaning, and that leads us to wonder who that Child is for us, to see God in a child, to believe in a God who chooses to enclose his greatness in the smallness of our humanity.”

This feast is not just about Christ’s birth 2,000 years ago, the Franciscan stated. “Christmas is Jesus, the Son of God, who again this year, like every day since that ancient time — for the men of his time, as for each of us today — waits for us to make room for him, waits to be born in our hearts. Christmas is an effort of conversion. It is being willing to respond to God’s waiting.”

Father Pizzaballa said that Christmas must be a time to convert our gaze, “realizing that the kingdom is advancing and is present; that I, we, all of us together, can make it present. Here is the need to look at creation, to look at the world, to look at the Middle East, and this Holy Land of ‘ours’ — the Land of God and the Land of Men — ‘from above,’ through the eyes of God.”

“Let us respond to God’s waiting, he who became a Child so that we could go to him as though he were the one to need us,” the Franciscan urged. “Because the heart of our waiting is knowing that God has been patiently waiting for us for a long time.

“Welcomed by his waiting, made new by his forgiveness and his grace, men of mercy and of reconciliation, of freedom and justice, we will then be able to listen — amid the noise of our confused reality — the announcement of the Angels: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”