By the coming of Jesus, the Person of the Word made flesh, into our world, God showed us the way of encounter and dialogue. Indeed, he made that way incarnate in himself, so that we might know it and follow it, in trust and hope.
Sisters and brothers, “what would our world be like without the patient dialogue of the many generous persons who keep families and communities together?” (Fratelli Tutti, 198). In this time of pandemic, we have come to realize this more and more. Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tried; there is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together. On the international level too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than setting out on the longer paths of dialogue. Yet only those paths can lead to the resolution of conflicts and to lasting benefits for all.
Indeed, even as the message of the birth of the Saviour, the source of true peace, resounds in our hearts and in the whole world, we continue to witness a great number of conflicts, crises and disagreements. These never seem to end; by now we hardly even notice them. We have become so used to them that immense tragedies are now being passed over in silence; we risk not hearing the cry of pain and distress of so many of our brothers and sisters.
Let us think of the people of Syria, who for more than a decade have experienced a war that has resulted in many victims and an untold number of displaced persons. Let us look to Iraq, which still struggles to recover from a lengthy conflict. Let us listen to the cry of children arising from Yemen, where an enormous tragedy, overlooked by everyone, has silently gone on for years, causing deaths every day.
Let us recall, too, the continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without a resolution, with ever more serious social and political consequences. Nor should we forget Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth, which is experiencing hardship also from the economic repercussions of the pandemic, preventing pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land and adversely affecting the life of the people. Let us think of Lebanon, which is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, accompanied by very troubling economic and social conditions.
Yet, in the heart of the night, look! The sign of hope! Today, “the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” (Paradiso, XXXIII, 145), as Dante says, became flesh. He came in human form, he shared in our plight and he broke down the wall of our indifference. In the cold of the night, he stretches out his tiny arms towards us: he is in need of everything, yet he comes to give us everything. Let us ask him for the strength to be open to dialogue. On this festive day, let us implore him to stir up in the hearts of everyone a yearning for reconciliation and fraternity. Let us now turn to him in prayer.