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92. Pope Francis and Christmas Day

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

By Giulio D'Ercole -

A little warning for my readers: This is not going to be my usual blog.

Being December 25th 2018, considering I live in Rome, and that in Rome I conduct my photo tours, today I could not avoid having a blog on Christmas day, a day so important for Christians around the world, that it seems to be the most important celebration of all Christian ones. Maybe even more important than Easter, the one that signs not the birth of Christ, but his resurrection after death and his ascent to heaven. Is it because Christmas is Jesus' birth, the birth of the "savior", the birth of God's son on earth, the birth of hope for all of us, and therefor it is a reassuring event? Well, even Easter is the symbol of birth, as a matter of fact it is even the most extraordinary birth of all, being it a rebirth, a birth that defeats death! And also Easter is about hope: the hope that through Jesus' sacrifice we could all be saved (which it is true at least for Christians). So why could we almost say that Christmas "beats" Easter, representing somehow more then the latter the sentiment of peace? It's indeed a strange thing, cause Easter is the true triumph of God's Peace over human violence. I guess there are two elements that play a role into this sort of "rivalry": the birth of a child always inspires sweetness and love. As I said, it is reassuring, almost by default. On the other hand resurrection was truly extraordinary, maybe too extraordinary: since life came on earth up to now, nobody ever resurrected, only Christ (at least for those believing in Jesus' resurrection). So Easter encompasses that element of death that none of us can escape and that all of us, mortal human beings, fear.

Then there is the second element, which has much more practical and material reasons: Christmas is the epitome, the apex, the zenith of consumerism! It is the day when by buying presents to others we fill our shortcomings, by mixing with the frenzy crowd in streets and shops we fulfill our sense of community and in so doing we try our best to be family. It is the day when, maybe, we even have a compassionate thought for the less fortunate.

Materialistic Christmas is the good, self-patting human version of the infamous Black Friday!

Well, if you think I am being too harsh..... think again and listen to what Pope Francis has to say, I mean we all know Pope Francis is the guiding Father of Christian Catholic Church! During the ritual Christmas' Eve Mass, he spoke to 10,000 believers gathered in St. Peter's Square, condemning the pursuit of riches and urged Christians to consider Jesus' humble birth, happened according to the New Testament, in a Bethlehem stable, where he was put as in a manger.

Talking to worshipers he said: "Standing before the manger, we understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity." And then added: "An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive." Talking about poverty and inequality Pope Francis urged Catholics not to "slide into worldliness and consumerism" and instead ask themselves, "Do I break my bread with those who have none?"

Then today, December 25th 2018, during his annual Christmas Day Francis chose to highlight geopolitical conflicts, the violence in Yemen, the Syrian civil war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, asking leaders to restart the peace talks. Finally, the Pope also called on humanity to remember that "our differences... are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness."

Francis' ultimate question today is: "What is the universal message of Christmas? It is that God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters."

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