‘A Great Need for Peace!’
The Christmas spirit of peace on earth is sadly absent from much of the Holy Land this year.
As hostilities intensify between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, it’s worth recalling the words of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem during this year’s Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, on Christmas Eve.
In his homily, Patriarch Fouad Twal affirmed that the message of the birth of Christ can still be heard, despite the violence that today plagues the land where Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago.
“On this night, the silence of the grotto will be even louder than the voice of the cannons and submachine guns,” the patriarch said. “The silence of the grotto gives life to those whose voice has been suffocated by tears and who have sought refuge in silence and impotence.”
Patriarch Twal lamented the willingness of humanity to listen more closely to the voices who clamor for violent solutions to conflicts than to those who search for peaceful solutions.
“O Child of Bethlehem, our wait has been long and we are worn out by our situation, we are tired of ourselves too,” he said. “We seek after everything except you, we cling to everything except you, we listen to everything except to you.
“We are taken in by beautiful speeches and promises. The cry of the widows and the children is mixed with the noise of cannons and submachine guns, we tear the heart and shatter the silence of the grotto and of the crèche.
“We have a great need for calm, for silence! We have a great need for peace! Of that we are sure! However, more than anything else, we need childhood and innocence. You, the poor one, despite your smallness, your weakness and your poverty.”
Said Patriarch Twal, “You alone are able to give us what we lack. O Child of Bethlehem, come so that the feast might be more a feast!”
— Tom McFeely