The long year which is now coming to an end, has experienced a crescendo of violence. We have suffered for the involvement of so many innocent children, the elderly, women, the poor in many countries, many Christian brothers and sisters, victims of discrimination, persecution and martyrdom in the Middle East and in various parts of the world. A long time in which our hope was sustained by prayer and by the urgent need to provide assistance.
In the depths of our hearts we strongly felt the need and a duty to raise our hopes to heaven, for protection against the violent attacks which seemed unrelenting. With our very hand we touched the eternal truth of Christmas and the word revealed by the Gospel. Life’s paths do not go through the courts of government and power, but rather along the hidden paths of a modest and non-domineering love.
God does not save us with a gesture of power, but rather with the humble sign of an infinite availability, which is offered to all. We needed the Almighty to appear in the form of a child “And the Lord hath chosen the weak things of the world” (1 Cor 1:27), because “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)
The Almighty truly only saved us in this way to the deepest roots, hidden in our deepest hearts – since had his infinite power only been used to save us, and even only by virtue of a benevolent miracle, surely we would have been healed of evil – however, our hearts would not have been changed.
Although we have always known this, we have proof and affirmation that authority and government recognize this veiled truth – that there is power to do evil and that there is power to do good. However, with power and our hearts we will always continue trusting his power, with the hope that it would always be benevolent and not evil.
However, the Lord has saved us from evil, not by way of his infinite power, but rather by the weakness of love and thus we are truly healed. Because we have experienced this love and discovered that it is true and deeply rooted, it has thepower to save us. This love can also possibly save us from ourselves and our lust for power and from the trust which we place in power and the illusion that life can be controlled through force.
Because this is true salvation, one should be faithful ultimately to love itself, believing that nothing else changes the heart and nothing else changes the world. The violence which surrounds us and seems to be the only language used today, becomes helpless in the face of love that saves.
We needed someone to stand before us and for us “because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:2).
Walking these roads and these lowly paths in order to tell us that this road is the true road, the only true way. This road should be followed until the end, up to the cross where love – love, weak and defeated – gives itself entirely in order to be reborn and live forever.
Therefore, the violence and force we experience during these times may deprive us of everything, but cannot take away the life that is born from that love. The love which was given to us for eternity.
And this is the essence of Christmas – that this Child takes us by the hand and leads us down this path, chosen by the Lord, where only the love to which we dedicated our hearts exists, and through which we can truly find salvation.
We therefore turn our eyes to that Grotto in Bethlehem, to see that the Lord chose it to elevate everything existing which is distant from force, different from power in order to show us that the Lord chose the frailty of a defenseless child.
Merry Christmas to all.
Fra. Pierbatista Pizzabella , OFM
Custos of the Holy Land