“The people who walked in darkness saw a great light” (Is 9:1)

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(from Alphonsian Academy blog)

The words of Isaiah’s prophecy sound like an intense melody, this Christmas in particular. It is the time when we have been called to fight against an enemy barely visible under the microscope that makes people suffer, causes fear, blocks the economy, takes lives, and no one can stop it. Old problems show themselves in their dramatic depth, and new issues are overwhelming so many people. Humanity can only wait.

Returning to “normality

Inevitably, Covid-19 is provoking us; it makes us question the basic choices, the values to which each person has oriented his or her whole life. In a world shrouded in the darkness of uncertainty and fighting between the desire to “return to normality” and the unconscious awareness that “nothing will be as it was before”, at Christmas, the Mystery once again bursts in and knocks on the door of the heart of every man and woman.

The celebration of tenderness

A feast of light and joy, a celebration of the God of life. In the tenderness of the child of Bethlehem: “The Eternal Word, from God, became man, from great he became small, from Lord he became servant, from innocent he became guilty, from strong he became weak, from his he became ours, from blessed he became afflicted, from sublime he became humble”, writes St Alphonse in a book on the Incarnation. A God who loves life to the point of wanting to take on human flesh in person without demanding anything: “Had he pretended by his coming to make himself feared and respected by men, he would sooner have taken the form of a man already perfect and of royal dignity; but because he came to earn our love, he wanted to come and be seen as a child, and among children the poorest and most humble, born in a cold cave, amid two animals, placed in a manger and laid on straw without sufficient clothes and without fire. Sic nasci voluit qui amari voluit, non timeri” (St Alphonse, Novena to Christmas). The infant God lights up the hope of the believer, illuminates the dark hours of history, infuses the human being with the strength to be reborn even from situations that seem irreversible (cf. Evangelii gaudium, no. 276).

Looking to the “abandoned

These days more than ever, it is almost spontaneous to turn our attention to those who live in conditions of poverty, precariousness and fragility, which have increased exponentially. Among these people, particular tenderness is aroused by people with disabilities, who have paid a very high price for the pandemic. They cannot speed up the pace to make up for ‘lost time’. Disability is the experience of a wounded body, but this does not cancel out or diminish the dignity of the human person, which must be enhanced with a creativity that knows how to go beyond limits. In these Christmas days, when we are called to reflect on the fragility assumed and redeemed by the Word of God, it could be significant to reflect upon and invent opportunities and initiatives to enhance these people. Can’t look at the world from the perspective of a person who has no use of his legs open up new horizons? Listening to a person in a wheelchair involves the effort of stooping down, reaching out to them, paying attention because so often, their voice is so delicate that you need an acute hearing to grasp what they wish to communicate. Leaning over them, can’t you feel the power of compassion and sharing move from the heart? And what about the families of people with disabilities. Who has welcomed their loneliness in the various lockdowns? The God Child, who descended into fragility, asks us not to look away. We all have to get up. We all have to get back to our lives, dreams, and projects, but really all of us. The true gift of Christmas and for Christmas is a shared life; the true banquet is to become broken bread for others. May it be for everyone a Christmas of sharing in solidarity and co-responsibility.

Filomena Sacco

(the original is in Italian)