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Christmas Message from the Ecclesiastical Assistant

Natale 2022 sitoWalking around Rome, looking at the window displays, visiting the churches, contemplating the cribs and attending prayer meetings, I came across a phrase that led me to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. This advertising phrase says “All you need is make-up”. I asked myself then, is this really what I need to live fully as God wants when he is born in our midst?

Dear friends, I believe that today, more than before, the birth of Christ challenges our priorities, our values, our way of life, our loves, our faith. Because living is more than breathing, being healthy, eating, earning and working. We must not forget, sisters, that everything started with the Announcement that Mary welcomed. Everything continued with another announcement, to Joseph so that he would not be afraid and not reject Mary. Everything concluded with another announcement, to the shepherds to wake up and fearlessly go to Bethlehem to adore the Savior. And in Joseph, as in Mary and the shepherds, we recognise what happens in the life of a man and a woman when God enters his or her story and changes its course. As often happens in life, it is God who takes the initiative and this encounter has its meaning. And in yours, who has the initiative?

In this era of humanity, which boasts the cult of efficiency, the plethoric state of health, relentless success, wild individualism, without realising it, slowly and imperceptibly, we have been falling into a whirlwind of hypocrisy, falsehoods and emptiness that we try to hide under the existential makeup that accompanies us. Year after year we celebrate Christmas, alone or with the family, next to the one we love or longing for the love that is no longer there, but do we celebrate it with God? For many, it is the time of the year with the most hustle, anxiety, loneliness, costs and fatigue. The same hustle and bustle that Joseph, Mary and the shepherds experienced that night, are yours, are ours.

In a world that marginalises and excludes the majority of humanity, which does not consider diversity, gratuitousness, generosity, humility, simplicity to be fundamental, Christmas makes us put our hearts precisely on those people and on those values, as Mary did, as you do yourselves. Christmas can be the moment in which, at the end of the year, you learn, you draw the final balance to see how it went, what needs to be set off, what can be started again and what needs to be tried again. You are a woman loved by God, never give up your heart, because with God you do not need makeup. It is not worth looking for things and goods to lose the deep sense of why you live and for whom you live.

Sisters, we have to learn that the Manger is an invitation for you to be you, a free, joyful, humble, generous, simple and brave woman. This Christmas I invite you, in a special way, not only to become aware of the presence of Jesus in you, but to become aware of his way of being in you. If you take a good look at your life, you will realise that you are also someone's pastor, with whom you guard, without calculation or certainty. That is Christmas, recognising not only who God is but who you are to Him and others. God is with you and still trusts you! "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem" (Lk 2,15): so the shepherds said and did. You too! Don't be afraid, come to Bethlehem. "Don't be afraid to accompany Mary", renounce to the makeup of arrogance, violence, lies, weakness and falsehood that they have tried to sell you. The Manger, where the Shepherds came to adore Jesus, is the place for you to learn that your life is worth, that it makes full sense when it is a space of life and truth for others. As a woman, you are invited today, with the urgency of doing good, in a Church that goes forth to the peripheries of humanity, to stop humbly before the Nativity, adore it and go out to love with the tenderness and mercy of God. Merry Christmas and see you in Assisi.

Father Marcelo Gidi, sj

Ecclesiastical Assistant