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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

A Great Joy

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

(Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

Last year it changed customs and habits around the world, having a terrible impact on even the most festive period of the year, with limitations and obligations to be respected. This year, despite the return of the pandemic, at European level they tried to lower the spotlight on the festival par excellence, the one which, beyond any ecclesial divergence or doctrinal view, allows in some way to speak of Christ and the Christian faith. In spite of the traditions and rites of the period, which can do nothing against the covid that again this year has decided to keep us company, I join those who believe that it is time to bring Jesus back to the center. The words that the angel announces to the shepherds in Luke's account are clear: great joy is connected with the birth of Christ. Paraphrasing a well-known advertisement, one could say: “No Jesus, no party, no joy”. It will not be the decorations or the lights that instill joy in us if we are then internally enveloped by clouds of various anxieties and worries. Every form of mask and hypocrisy will soon find its time. Why hide or cover yourself with falsehoods? Rather than reaching out to ourselves and our private life, we should expand to the other.

When many dream of a better world at least for one day, happy families, empty hospitals, overcrowded churches, happy children with their toys, tables set everywhere, we need to look around and review our habits in respect of those who have a broken heart, wet eyes and a huge lump in my throat. First of all, rediscovering that the nicely defined "Christmas spirit" is anything but fun and revelry, but solidarity and closeness. In these days perhaps we will also have the opportunity to think more about those who live in family and reception homes, detention and nursing homes. If we have a minimum of faith, we will agree that the remembrance of Christ cannot be linked to a celebration imposed by a liturgical calendar, and that what really counts is what He has placed before each one: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4 KJV).

Not everyone knows that at the origin of this feast there was a theological need to respond to those who argued that Jesus did not have a divine nature and that only at baptism in the Jordan would he receive divine fullness. The choice of the feast, albeit based on a pagan reality of the Empire, made it possible to declare that God had become man in Christ from the beginning, and that that child was the Son of God already at birth. Here then is that this period should favor the memory of the many well-established Christian origins of our society, that is, help to turn our gaze to the One who one day came to dwell among us, assuming human nature in Mary's womb and coming to light in a humble stable in Bethlehem, to testify to us the love of God for each one, so immense as to leave the Glory of Heaven and become like us with the intent of making us partakers of Heaven, reconciling ourselves to the Father through Grace. Indeed, this very perspective becomes consoling in a time of suffering and tears. The birth of Christ is not an end in itself. He did not come to leave us a feast, but to open the doors of Heaven to us, to help us live this existence as a viaticum towards his kingdom, to give us what we are longing for. His indications are to cling to him like branches to the vine, so that "my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).

It will be Christmas if He lives in your life, if you have chosen to trust in the Eternal. It will not be a question of a particular day, but of an interior condition, to change which wishes and wishes will not be enough. Until He is at the center of our existence we will not be able to fully understand the meaning of the words to Nicodemus: "Most assuredly, I tell you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Even then Jesus anticipated the wonder of a man professing the faith of Israel. This would be enough to understand that it is not a question of renewing a rite or placing a baby on a nativity scene. The stable and the manger should show everyone the way to humility, to start a new path without expecting anything, but letting Christ inhabit his own existence. If that hasn't happened yet, then may this be the week of Christmas in your life. You are born again in Christ. Grab the gift of God and let yourself be illuminated by his light.


Weekly reading plan

of the Bible #52

December 20, Micah 1-3; Revelation 11

December 21, Micah 4-5; Revelation 12 December 22, Micah 6-7; Revelation 13 December 23, Nahum; Revelation 14 December 24, Habacuc; Revelation 15 December 25, Zephaniah; Revelation 16 December 26, Haggai; Revelation 17

Photo by Krisph,

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