Holy Land: Patton (Custos) to SIR, “It is a tragedy not a farcical comedy”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“A tragedy not a farcical comedy”: it’s Christmas in the eyes of the Custos of the Holy Land Father Francesco Patton, who made these provocative remarks in an interview with SIR news agency. “Christmas is the tragedy of a God that is Light from Light and that penetrates a dark history in order to illuminate it. Darkness did not overcome the Light, yet it failed to embrace it. It is a tragedy that challenges above all Christians in the Middle East who “will be living out these days with intense liturgical zeal, which is rarely seen in Western societies, within a situation marked by tensions and concerns”. This is true, for example, for “those living in the poorest areas of the West Bank or Gaza. Those living in Syria whose Christmas will be spent praying every day that war will end for good, and that it will be replaced by a path of reconciliation and reconstruction. For Christians living in Syrian villages along the Orontes river with a strong Jihadist presence, hoping to recover a peaceful life and to restore crosses on bell towers, to make the nativity scene and wear their religious habit again. Let us remember the thousands of Christian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In their tragedy, they cherish hopes of Goodness, with a capital G, not only of ‘goods’”. But the tragedy of Christmas that “wants the light to shine on the darkness of the history of mankind” is also found in events experienced during this past 2018: the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the controversial law on the Jewish State, the failure of intra-Palestinian reconciliation, the rockets fired against Israel, the protests and the death toll in Gaza, the stabbings…”. According to Fr. Patton, we should interpret these facts “as believers. Reading through the lenses of the faith helps us extend our gaze beyond the events we experience, without overlooking them. It helps us identify the direction of history’s course wanted by God”. By doing so, “we find ourselves in the dream of God, participating in His plan of salvation for us, in His ideal of history and the experience of disasters that was common also at the time of Mary”. Between the present history and the dream of God “stands our faith as well as our personal, great responsibility and that of decision-makers, a daily responsibility that we practice by supporting certain visions of life and not others, thereby becoming either peace-builders or hate-mongers. It is an endearing path that requires time and patience”. The Custos ended the interview with a wish: “May the dream of God come true within each one of us, may we be capable of cherishing hope, without becoming unduly pessimistic. May the light of Christmas be embraced and may it penetrate the darkness, including our own personal darkness, in order to brighten it”.