Christmas 2022: free thoughts on the journey to Bethlehem

Photo: firing_tower (Flickr)

It’s already the sixth Christmas since Christians Today is online. It’s not a given. Nowadays, newspapers are born and disappear as quickly as certain species of butterflies appear in the meadows and then die. After six years, our magazine continues to move forward, despite our personal difficulties and everyday doubts.

If we are continuing it is simply because this work is not ours but someone who supports us. Such a thought arises spontaneously above all in a time of celebration, in which the sense of communion is strongest. We have always sought a direct, friendly and fraternal relationship with our readers and the approach of Christmas is an opportunity to strengthen it.

These were not easy years, it was a time in which it was difficult to cultivate strong ties, even between Christians or between people who believed in the same values. In the past two Christmases, the pandemic risked making us experience subdued holidays, in which human relationships risked taking a back seat or becoming definitively “virtualized”. They were also years in which social and family relationships were seriously jeopardized by a series of new prejudices, phobias and fears, of an existential or ideological order, depending on the case.

Only those with a more marked sensitivity and spirituality than the average could have welcomed the changes of the last three years as an opportunity for inner conversion. In these months of apparent “return to normality”, it would be a mistake to forget everything and not think of the hardships of the recent past as an opportunity for growth, precisely because it was a time of trial.

It would be nice, then, to live this Christmas according to the spirit of Bethlehem: anyone who has gone on pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Nativity knows well that you enter through an entrance just over a meter high, also called Door of humility: it is necessary to bend down and kneel down if you want to meet God, especially if you want to come before a child God.

God becomes man and comes into the world in a context of great difficulty: a mother and foster father fleeing a tyrant, the cold, hunger, the inhospitality of an unknown place, populated by brigands, marauders and shepherds who lived by their wits. Yet the most unlikely of domestic hearths, the Bethlehem Grotto, has become the friendliest place in the world. As soon as he was born, the Lord already draws to himself the least and humble, or rather the shepherds. Only later will the ducts and the wise come to him, in the person of the Magi.

At the very moment of his birth, Jesus breaks all the molds. Precariousness and discomfort become an opportunity for meeting, for getting to know each other, for coming together in difficulties. The first Christmas immediately gave birth to a community. It is also for this reason that Christmas, despite what some doctors of today’s secularized Temple say, is the inclusive celebration by definition.

A few weeks ago, the news that at the University of Brighton, the academic authorities forbade teachers, students and employees to wish “Merry Christmas”. In their opinion, this would be too “Christocentric” an expression: it is impossible to blame the directors of the prestigious British university. If there is a moment of the year in which Christ is placed at the center of everything, it is precisely Christmas (not to mention Easter). Equally impossible, however, is to think of Christmas as a holiday that should make non-Christians uncomfortable. It is to be hoped that Brighton academics will free themselves from the sad aura of new Pharisees and convert to the Magi of the 21st century, putting aside all their preconceptions…

This is how it would be nice to experience this and all the Christmases to come: a moment of warmth, in the cold of the world; a moment of light in the darkness of humanity; a moment of consolation in adversity; a small strip of Paradise that, humbly and with discretion, without noise, makes its way on earth. Best wishes, then, Merry Christmas to all of you, friends of Christians Todaylike us on our way to Bethlehem!

Christmas 2022: free thoughts on the journey to Bethlehem