On December 19, over 64 members of Pax Romana from more than 30 countries gathered for a common online Christmas liturgy. We also took time to reflect together on the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti.
The following is the homily offered by Bishop Sergi Gordo Rodríguez, of Barcelona, a friend and former chaplain of our movement.
Christmas celebration – PAX ROMANA
Saturday 19th of December 2020
Luke 2:7 : “And she […] laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”
Dear Friends of Pax Romana: thank you for this global virtual meeting that we are celebrating today! It is a great initiative to grow in fraternity and friendship.
The fragments from Pope Francis’ encyclical that we have just read encourage us to do so. They are not bucolic or sweetened messages. He strongly denounces a globalization that discards many people and invites us to a new economic, political and international order based on fraternity and social friendship. And to this we can contribute, even to put a penny to fill the piggy, each one of us, also counting on the strength of the Lord and as members of a international movement Pax Romana. As Francis reminds us, “despite these dense shadows (…) God continues to sow seeds of good in humanity”. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has made us able to recognize that “no one is saved alone.”
Certainly, there are “thick shadows”. In this sense, I remember that the young Carmelite martyr of the 20th century, Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), affirmed that “the star of Bethlehem is a star in the dark night, still today.” This star that indicates the visit of Emmanuel, the God-with-us, refers us not to the splendor but to the dark night of our days.
Indeed, from an international perspective such as that offered by Pax Romana, in our days we are witnessing conflicts, the growth of xenophobia, the escalation of terrorism. We meet migrants who are looking for bread and a future. People want to silence that the number of poor and homeless continues to increase in our opulent and supposedly advanced cities ; we learn that only a few of us are benefiting from the so-called “globalization” in the technological-economic-financial fields while the rest are discarded ; they want to impose the idea that the laws of the markets are immutable and that we have to obey them blindly – forgetting that behind the markets there are human beings. It seems as if a kind of fatality penetrated everything and sneaked everywhere in a similar way to what happens with the coronavirus or with computer viruses that spread rapidly through the Internet … And then we usually comment: “we cannot do anything”.
In this situation, it is an immense joy that in our Church we do not lose our memory and we still live “even today” the birth of the Divine Child in the stable of Bethlehem : small, fragile, vulnerable, naked. He also ruled out because “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2 :7). And naked and totally discarded, the Son of God will end up on the cross when, by offering us the extreme love of God the Father, he is rejected. None of our failures will ever be as dramatic as His. We can thus hopefully face the failures and pandemic dramas of our world because the Lord himself walked this same path before us. And he went through it with the paradoxical force of overcoming evil with good.
So are we still going to say that “there is nothing to do”? At least we have the opportunity to collaborate humbly with the Lord – who trusts us more than ourselves! – in a very discreet and simple mission, just as He likes: sowing, wherever each one of us is, those seeds of justice and peace that announce life forever, and in some situations of “dense shadows” or “dark night” – such as the current Covid-19 pandemic and the great global economic and social crisis – avoid to resign ourselves and at least try to be “voice of the voiceless.” The provident and merciful Lord is the only one who can make His seeds grow, not our impatient efficacy.
And finally, I invite you, friends of Pax Romana, to stop our contemplative gaze on “the star of Bethlehem” that shines in the dark night over the Child God in the cradle. Let us approach with confidence, before the Messiah in diapers, poor and humble, discarded. May with Him we bring comfort and hope to all people of good will. From its smallness and fragility, He who is like “the sun that comes from above” visits us again this Christmas 2020, without protocols, to illuminate those who live in darkness, “in the dark night, still today.” Let us not ignore them and even less in these Christmas days that it is not convenient to sweeten. As we sing in the Christmas carol: “Christmas is a path that does not have a tambourine, because God resonates within those who go in fraternity, Christmas is the miracle of standing at each door and knowing if our brother needs our bread”.
May this Christmas be the beginning of a new way of living, as Francis suggests in his last encyclical:
“Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of “them” and “those”, but only “us”. If only this may prove not to be just another tragedy of history from which we learned nothing” (FT 35)
“Let us continue, then, to advance along the paths of hope”, Pope Francis insists, yes,
let’s walk together, fratelli (et sorelle) tutti, friends of the international Pax Romana movement, since the star of Bethlehem shines, despite being in a “dark night”.
Merry and Holy Christmas !
+ Sergi Gordo Rodríguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Barcelona