Caught in the heat of the war between Hamas and Israel, Christians in the Holy Land are preparing to celebrate Christmas in a context of extreme tension. Everyone tries to carry, with their diverse voices, the peaceful message of the Gospel. Here in Taibeh, Abouna Bashar, the priest of the Latin parish, emphasizes the joy and hope that Christians must share on Christmas Eve. “This message of hope is that of this land, this land where Jesus was born. We must bring joy,” he insists.
The priest regrets the decision of Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who asked parishes to limit celebrations inside churches and to renounce the usual festivities marking the preparation for Christmas as a sign of communion with the victims of the war. “This is not a good decision,” contests Father Abouna Bashar, “the market and the Christmas tree, the raffle, the big festival, the feast of Saint Barbara, these festivities maintain joy, and it is necessary to keep going in war! Jesus is the center of the celebration, of our community life.”