Baby Jesus reminds us of painful plight of migrants, Pope says

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service, 9/12/.2016  (Pic:Christmas tree is lit during a ceremony in St. Peter's Square)

James Kottor(Note: If there is a time to think  of the migrants, refugees and homeless, it is the time of Christmas. What else is the central message of the birth of Jesus? It is “there was no room for him in the Inn.” That precisely is the plight of so many driven from their homes either due to utter poverty, war and bombardments which is the perennial story in Syria, in countries plagued with terrorist attacks, lack of jobs and means of survival.

Heart rending are the stories we read almost daily about overcrowded boats getting drowned between north Africa and Italy or Greece. Among the drowned  are mostly children, the  sick and    elderly. If these stories do not move us and shake us up,  worthless are our so-called convictions about the brotherhood of all humans and the fatherhood of God.

The great tragedy is that we do not put ourselves in their plight and think what we would have wished others to do for us. The next step is to try to do that for them because the reality is that there is no other God alive except YOU to your  neighbor and your NEIGHBOR to you. That is the meaning of the biblical saying: “If you don’t love your brother whom you can see,  your statement you love God whom you can’t see is a lie.”

Nothing really happens until it happens  to you. Put yourself in the place of migrants in a ship about to be drowned or in the place of Mary and Joseph franticly looking for a place to deliver Jesus. Finally only the animal world weldomed them. They had to find home in a cattle shed. If you have a cattle shed would you allow a homeless traveler to stay there or on your door step for the night? Think of it as Christmas approaches and do what your honest conscience suggests. james kottoor, editor)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are symbols of God's love and hope, reminding us to contemplate the beauty of creation and welcome the marginalized, Pope Francis said.

Baby Jesus, whose parents could find no decent shelter and had to flee persecution, is a reminder of the "painful experience" of so many migrants today, he said Dec. 9, just before the Vatican Christmas tree was to be lit and its Nativity scene was to be unveiled.

Nativity scenes all over the world "are an invitation to make room in our life and society for God – hidden in the gaze of so many people" who are living in need, poverty or suffering, he told people involved in donating the tree and creche for St. Peter's Square.

The northern Italian province of Trent donated the 82-foot-tall spruce fir, which was adorned with ceramic ornaments handmade by children receiving medical treatment at several Italian hospitals.

The 55-foot-wide Nativity scene was donated by the government and Archdiocese of Malta. It features 17 figures dressed in traditional Maltese attire as well as replica of a Maltese boat to represent the seafaring traditions of the island.

The boat also represents "the sad and tragic reality of migrants on boats headed toward Italy," the pope said in his speech in the Vatican's Paul VI hall.

"In the painful experience of these brothers and sisters, we revisit that (experience) of baby Jesus, who at the time of his birth did not find accommodation and was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and then was brought to Egypt to escape Herod's threat."

"Those who visit this creche will be invited to rediscover its symbolic value, which is a message of fraternity, sharing, welcoming and solidarity," the pope said.

The beauty of the pristine forests of northern Italy where the tree grew "is an invitation to contemplate the creator and to respect nature," he said, adding that "we are all called to approach creation with contemplative awe." The Nativity scene and tree will remain in St. Peter's Square until the feast of the Lord's Baptism Jan. 9.

Archbishop Lauro Tisi of Trent, speaking at the tree-lighting ceremony as the sun set, told people in St. Peter's Square that the towering tree had lived decades — decades that saw thousands of people from the region emigrate in search of work in the early 1900s. It's unconscionable, he said, that people today refuse to welcome those coming from poorer places with the same needs and dreams.

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