Below are excerpts of the 2011 Christmas homily of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, close to the Holy Grotto where the Virgin Mary swaddled her son and laid him in a manger. The full text is on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
– The song of the angels in the sky above Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago still echoes: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth.”
– If we glorify God, we shall enjoy his peace. If we glorify ourselves, we shall be denied this peace.
– Among all the continents and countries of the world, God chose Palestine, our beloved land, to be the homeland of the Saviour … and so, we are duty-bound to follow the host of angels in forever repeating: “Glory to God in the highest”.
– We are one with our people, for their suffering … their hopes are our own.
– We hope that, with the grace of God and with the support of people of goodwill, the physical and psychological walls that men build around themselves may disappear. God wants bridges that unite rather than walls that separate that which God has united. Dear brothers and sisters let us tear down the walls of our hearts in order to tear down walls of concrete!
– We ask that the road travelled by our ancestors – the Magi and the shepherds – to Bethlehem should remain open, without barriers or hindrance, open to the pilgrims of the whole world, including the Arab world.
– And on this holy night, the children of the Holy Land, fellow citizens of the Infant Jesus, beg us: “Let us grow up as normal children, grant us the time to play in the squares and market places of our towns and villages far from political intrigue.”
– O Child of Bethlehem, in this New Year, we place in your hands this troubled Middle East and, above all, our youth full of legitimate aspirations, who are frustrated by the economic and political situation, and in search of a better future. We implore you to grant their wishes and fill their hearts with courage and wisdom together with a spirit of responsibility.
+ Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem