By Lisa Zengarini
In his Christmas Message, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, encourages the faithful to see the signs of God’s presence in the ongoing upheaval caused by COVID-19, noting that the eyes of the body can only see fear.
“This last year 2020, has been characterized by fear: health, economy, and even politics. Everything seems to have been overturned by this small but powerful virus, which cancelled our projects in a short time and has left us disoriented”, he writes.
God is present in our reality
However, in the midst of this global crisis, “the eyes of the Spirit see the signs that God provides to man: the signs of His presence, His hidden strength, His kingdom, that arise within us when we give Him room”, the message stresses. “A baby in a manger” is the sign of this new Kingdom which “has nothing to do with the power of Caesar Augustus or with powerful and visible manifestations of force”. We can easily let this sign slip “because we are so wrapped up in our anxieties and fears. Archbishop Pizzaballa notes, therefore emphasizing the need to be guided by the Holy Spirit “to recognize once again, in the face of adversity, the sign of God’s presence in our reality”, as the shepherds of the Gospel did.
Look with the eyes of the Spirit
“Jesus came to overturn our thoughts, to surprise our expectations, to shake our existence, to awaken us from the illusion that everything is known, everything is under control, that discouragement is the only logical answer to the sad reality of our world”. According to Archbishop Pizzaballa, we must then “decide whether to limit ourselves by looking at our existence in today’s world, with its logic of power and fear, or be able to peer with the eyes of the Spirit to recognize the presence of the Kingdom in our midst”.
To see with the eyes of the Spirit calls on Christians to become a sign in turn: “Now it is for us to become a sign of great joy, the joy of Emmanuel - God with us - and become witnesses of this joy to the ends of the earth”, the message concludes.