Commission Justice and Peace
Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
2015 Christmas Message
This year Christmas approaches and darkness surrounds us. Hatred, violence and death engulf our land and our region. Forces of darkness named occupation, discrimination, religious fanaticism and intolerance continue to dominate our world and our day to day lives. Walls are built, homes destroyed, families separated, land confiscated, siege imposed. Anger grows and fear reigns. Too many Palestinians have lost hope and in their despair go out to wound or to kill and ultimately to be killed. Too many Israelis believe that in killing they will have security. This is our reality in this land called to be holy. What can we say at Christmas time? How can we continue to hope?
Into such a world, two thousand years ago, a small child was born. Indeed, His world and ours are remarkably similar. As he walked in it, we walk in it. As we kneel before Him and offer Him homage, we want to reaffirm that we are His disciples. He is vulnerable, He is weak, He is needy… yet He shows us the way. He too will be swallowed up by the darkness but God will not allow the darkness to have the last word. This is our faith and this Christmas we affirm that light will conquer darkness, truth will vanquish deceit and justice and peace will come. He will not bring peace by waving a magical wand but He will empower us to remain steadfast and work for justice and peace.
After the Resurrection, the disciples continued to live in a hostile world. Their faith consoled them but they continued to cry out: “how long will it be?” (Revelation 6:10). Together with them, today we take up their cry. For decades, our land has been awash in blood and the latest round of violence is ferocious and pitiless. Yet, in the midst of all this and without ignoring what surrounds us, we want to affirm: We will continue! We will not give up! Yes, all solutions seem to have failed. All ideologies seem to be bankrupt. All those who have worked to bring justice and peace, whether the United Nations, the Arab states, the United States, the European Union, have floundered as the Israeli government resolutely affirms its conviction that military might will eventually conquer but, we know, it will never bring the solution.
We will continue to live and fight injustice, fear and violence! We will continue to speak out and look tirelessly for reasons to hope! We will continue to resist the darkness! Some might say: This hoping against hope is futile and an illusion! We respond: God is almighty and merciful and loves his children. The hour of mercy and justice among people will come when we do not expect it. Moreover we remember the word of the Psalmist, “For a thousand years in God’s sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). As we prepare to welcome the newborn Child, we recommit to remain faithful to His teaching until He comes again, appearing in His goodness and with the justice and peace for which we wait. Furthermore, we recommit to work with others, bringing new energy and creativity in order to promote life in this situation of death. We do this as individual disciples of Christ within our societies, while we affirm that every human being is stronger than the power of death that surrounds us. We also recommit in the name of our churches, our schools, our universities, our hospitals, our homes for the elderly, the handicapped, the marginal, our associations for life, human rights, conflict resolution and dialogue. These institutions are oases of life, open to everybody. They already show a way in the darkness!
At this time of Christmas, we say that we will continue to live right at the heart of the darkness, resisting this darkness with courage and conviction. We will continue to raise our children to love and promote life. We will continue to believe that it need not be this way. We will continue to be witnesses to the Child who is born as Prince of Peace. In this spirit, we wish one and all a Christmas of hope and light!