Patriarch Pizzaballa: Christmas invites us to seek paths of reconciliation amid war

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem urges Christians to heed the Christmas message of love, peace, and reconciliation at a time when violence and hatred seem to prevail in the Holy Land and other parts of the world.

By Lisa Zengarini

As war continues to wreck death and devastation in several parts of the world, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa has called upon Christians to go beyond the present tragedies and heed the Christmas message of love, peace, and reconciliation.

The true meaning of Christmas remains more important than ever today

At a time when “violence, hatred, division and feelings of revenge seem to prevail” the true meaning of Christmas remains more important than ever, the Patriarch said in a Christmas video message released today.

Cardinal Pizzaballa referred to the ongoing war in Eastern Europe, but in particular to the conflict in the Holy Land, where, he said, “since 7 October we have fallen into the abyss of hatred, resentment, revenge, violence, death which have struck the Israeli society and now affect Palestinians.” The Patriarch recalled specifically the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, and also to the hardships endured by the small Christian community in Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

God comes to us and opens our hearts to meet others

In this dramatic situation, he noted, “everyone is closed in their pain, while instead Christmas reminds us that God comes to us, makes Himself present among us, and opens our hearts to meeting others.”

Cardinal Pizzaballa remarked that, despite all the violence, we must not forget the true meaning of the Christmas message “that God becomes flesh out of love and communicates to us a new way of being in the world which is to give one’s life out of love for others.”

Let’s raise out gaze beyond our pain

Saying yes to God – he said – means “opening up to dialogue, reconciliation, forgiveness, friendship, and to recognizing the other as an important part of oneself.”

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, therefore concluded the message, by calling on the faithful in the Holy Land and across the world to raise their gaze  beyond the pain and  “see God’s work being done.” “He is truly the Lord of history, of the personal history of each of us and of the history of the world, he said.