English

Patriarch calls from Bethlehem to hear the voice of pain

By Daoud Kuttab

Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa used the word voice and voices 33 times in his Christmas eve midnight mass homily from the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

He spoke about the voice of God, the voice of angels, the voices that occupy or liberate our times, the voice of home that is born in Bethlehem, the worrying voice, and the no lack of voices in Israel. But in his Christmas message the spiritual head of the Catholic Church in Palestine, Jordan, Israel, and Cyprus focused on one special voice. “The voice of pain of this people is really a loud, deafening cry. A people that need to experience justice, that wants to know freedom, that is tired of waiting to be allowed to live freely and with dignity in its own land and in its own house.”

Patriarch Pizzaballa then gave emphasis to the prince of peace whose birth everyone was celebrating. He mentioned “Jesus” 13 times saying: The birth of Jesus Christ in the grotto of Bethlehem changed the history of humanity. Today it also has the power to change our lives and to open new perspectives.”

Bethlehem appeared in the homily six times with the patriarch emphasizing the difficulties facing Palestinians in the birthplace of Christ especially due to the pandemic praying that “all this may end soon and that the city of Bethlehem may once again be full of pilgrims, as is its characteristic. We hope that with a joint action of politics, Church and tour operators, local and international, we can find safe ways to resume this activity, despite the pandemic.”

The Catholic leader who made a pre-Christmas visit to the Gaza strip reported to the world the suffering and the resilience of Gazan Christians. Repeating the word Gaza six times the Latin Patriarch said “visiting our community in Gaza a few days ago, I learned, in fact, that even in the most difficult situations, truly problematic ones, one can make room for love, solidarity, and joy. I met people who know how to be active and constructive.”

The term Jordan, where the Patriarch also had just visited along with other church leaders as guests of King Abdullah, was repeated five times. The Latin spiritual leader said that despite the many difficulties that Jordan has faced this country “teaches first world countries what solidarity generosity and welcome are.”

But perhaps the most important part of the homily from Bethlehem was how the Latin priest focused on local issues affecting Palestinians on a daily basis and their desire like all people of the world to be free a word that is mentioned four times. “The voice of pain of this people is really a loud, deafening cry. A people that need to experience justice, that wants to know freedom, that is tired of waiting to be allowed to live freely and with dignity in its own land and in its own house, that does not want to live only by the permits that are now necessary to enter, leave, work or other. Patriarch concludes in this aspect that what Palestinians need are not permits, but rights, and an end to years of occupation and violence, with all their dramatic consequences on the life of each individual and the community at large.”

In the conclusion of his homily, Patriarch Pizzaballa repeats the use of the term voice e saying that Jesus “calls each of us again today to welcome His voice.”

To read the entire homily click here

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