Christmas wishes

  • December 19, 2012

The birthplace of Jesus will be quieter than usual this Christmas. Many Christians who had planned pilgrimages to Bethlehem cancelled their trips when war flared last month between Israel and Hamas. Bethlehem was spared the rockets, but many missiles were aimed at nearby Jerusalem and so, unlike a year ago when Bethlehem had 140,000 December pilgrims, the lineups will be shorter this week at the Church of the Nativity.

Palestinian Christians have endured much worse, of course, than a seasonal dip in visitors and the spending they bring to a town with depressingly high levels of unemployment. Bethlehem’s population was once 85 per cent Christian; today it is about 15 per cent, and declining. For decades the Christians of Bethlehem have been getting pushed from their historical homeland by political, military and economic forces beyond their control. Recent events are just another setback in a string of misery.

Still, particularly at Christmas, Bethlehem’s Christians should be prominent in our thoughts and prayers. As we hit the pause button on our busy lives, stopping to celebrate the Saviour’s birth, it is important to see beyond our own family and friends and reach out in charity and prayer to others.

Bethlehem and the entire Middle East need our prayers, but they are not alone on The Register’s wish list. This Christmas, we also pray for:

o Comfort and peace for the victims and families of the school shooting in Newtown, and victims of all such violence, as well as resolve and courage for political leaders to finally address the scourge of guns in society.

o Open hearts during the ongoing Year of Faith so practising Catholics can deepen their faith and lapsed Catholics can hear the call to return to the Church.

o Compassion and wisdom for governments to weather financial storms in ways that don’t increase hardship for Canada’s poor or dishonour the moral obligation to bring aid and development to the sick and impoverished in so many foreign nations.

o Encouragement and strength for the champions of life — the defenders of the unborn and opponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide — and enlightenment for political leaders to address these important matters and make this a society that respects human life from conception to natural death.

o Safety and justice for the tens of thousands of Christians being persecuted around the world, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and rest of Asia, because they celebrate that Jesus is the Son of God.

o Fortitude and confidence for educators, parents and bishops to stand up for Catholic schools and the values they profess amid the ever-strengthening voices of secularism in society.

Finally, joy and peace for The Register’s readers and a Merry Christmas for all.


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