Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa encourages Catholics in the Holy Land to be more positive about their future, and expresses hope that 2022 will be a year of recovery for the local Church.
At the opening of the new year, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa invited Catholics in the Holy Land to maintain a positive outlook on their future despite ongoing difficulties and to participate actively in the life of the Church and society.
Being an integral part of society
In his homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on 1 January, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem remarked that local Christians should not expect to be protected and “sheltered in a glass dome” from the many difficulties and hostilities they face.
Rather, he said, they must be “an integral part” of the civil and religious life of the society they live in.
Going beyond limited numbers
He noted that the pandemic in the past year has left behind a sense of fatigue, while “no real and structural solutions” to existing political problems in the Holy Land appear on the horizon.
However, he said the local Christian community should not “always complain”, but rather confide in the Lord who “opens us up to life and joy.”
“We must go beyond the preoccupation for numbers and the desire to see immediate results from our actions and initiatives. We must acquire the trust and patience of the sower,” he added.
Listening to one another
He therefore expressed hope that 2022 would be a year of recovery for the Church in the Holy Land and that it will be able to resume activities “without fear.”
He noted that the synodal process offers a great opportunity in this respect. “I hope that this small synod will at least teach us to listen to one another, to listen to the Scriptures, to listen to the Spirit we have received and who never ceases to speak to us,” he said.
Communion and openness
Patriarch Pizzaballa went on to highlight that in the new year Catholics in the Holy Land are called to strengthen their bonds of communion. However, building stronger bonds should not be aimed at creating closed communities against others.
“Communion with one another gives us the confidence to open ourselves not only to our Christian brothers and sisters who are not Catholic, but also to our Muslim and Jewish neighbours,” he stressed.
He further emphasized that Catholics must participate actively “not only in the life of the Church, each according to his or her gifts and vocation”, but also in the life of their society so as to be “salt and light” to the world.
Not seeking special protections
For this reason, he said, Christians in the Holy Land should not seek protection from the many difficulties and hostilities they face.
“In society, we want to be those who announce the Good News with their lifestyle, who are able to propose different models of relationships, alternatives to our suffering world that are centered on equality and reconciliation, mutual respect and love!” the Patriarch pointed out.
Trust in the Providence
Wrapping up his homily, Archbishop Pizzaballa expressed his hope that in 2022 the faithful will actively engage in the synodal journey and begin the new year “with trust and gratitude towards the Providence, who never ceases to assist us and which invites us to have a grateful and serene outlook for the Salvation we have received.”