On the occasion of the Solemnity of Christmas, the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, presided at Midnight Mass in Greccio (Italy) yesterday, 24 December 2022. We publish below the homily that the Minister delivered during the Eucharistic Celebration:
Minister General Homily of the Midnight Mass in Greccio, Christmas 2022
The night of this Christmas in Greccio is also crossed by the light, not of our torches, as in the time of Francis, but of the hope we feel an urgent need of in this dark time we are living. Hope is the key word for this Christmas. Hope, we know, is not optimism, but power that allows us to see a great light even when we walk in darkness, as Isaiah sang. This certainty opens us up to the future, allows us to peer over the horizon beyond our own narrow vision.
The birth of a child is always a new opportunity, a new beginning, a reason for hope. This Child who is born in Bethlehem in the fresco's Greccio has a small tomb as his manger, because he is already the Risen One, he is already the One who is definitively born to life after having passed through our death on the cross.
He is the Risen One, the One who lives forever, the reason for Christian hope. He is the truth and reality of the existence of every human being, of history.
We welcome this hope tonight in silence. Here is another key word of Christmas. Scripture tells us that while silence enveloped everything, the wisdom of God descended from his throne in our midst. God does not act in the noise and din of the limelight and success, but in the silence of humble beginnings. Luke's page forcefully reminds us of this.
We also urgently need silence to nourish hope. That is, contact with ourselves, with others; a deeper, more attentive listening that only silence allows. We need silence to contact our interiority and in it recognise God's loving presence that accompanies us and constitutes our deepest consistency. Will we be able to find silence again?
Silence nourishes hope, not to become strong and powerful, but to embrace our fragility. Here is another word of Christian Christmas. St Francis says that the Word of God wanted to be born in the fragility of our human flesh. By becoming man, he chose the limit of our human condition, its constraints, its labours.
Christmas, then, means educating ourselves and educating ourselves to fragility, learning not to fear it and at the same time not to think we are just standing still in it.
I often hear the lament that Christmas is now without Jesus and that its religious dimension is now practically invisible. It is easy to say that this is so. I wonder though:
Do we Christians know how to show with our lives the hope of Christmas, of the new beginning of this Child and of his life, which is the beginning of our life, our resurrection?
Do we Christians know how, in a silence that is attention and care, to welcome, to listen, to promote the other in his dignity?
Do we Christians still know how to dedicate spaces of silence to listen to the Lord who speaks in his word, of others, in creation and in the circumstances of our lives?
Do we Christians know how to welcome fragility without judging it in others, without removing or avoiding it? Do we thus honour the fragile humanity of our flesh, which the Lord has chosen as his permanent dwelling place? In short, let us give consistency of faith to Christmas, let us show the permanent newness of it, and the Lord who comes in the midst of us will still be the beginning of hope for many, in the silence of many lives and in the fragility of many stories.
To all a Merry Christmas of Jesus Christ in our mortal flesh, invoking for the world the gift of peace in justice, for a new humanity.