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JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Christmas is the door that God keeps open as an invitation for people to enter into communion with him, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said in his Christmas Eve homily.
In a time of fear, mistrust and insecurity, and of closed doors and defended borders that breed the current "violent dynamics," Archbishop Pizzaballa challenged people to "open doors and cross thresholds" to start new ways of thinking and behaving.
He invited people to become "as brave and generous as Christ was when he came to share our life by giving us his" during midnight Mass at the Church of St. Catherine adjacent to the Church of the Nativity.
"The birth of Christ and of Christians, in fact, is not the magic or sentimental celebration that we can live locked up in our houses, secure in personal, familiar or social enclosures," the archbishop said. "It is not the enjoyment ... of an escape from the harsh realities of everyday life, a colored and glittering diversion within a very grim life. Christmas is the announcement of a salvation that waits to be accepted to find fulfillment."
Christians are invited on Christmas to "set out, to make the commitment, to go out from our laziness and our reasoning to go up to Bethlehem, to enter the new time of life and peace, the kingdom that Christ ushers in," he explained.
However, he added, people continue to "reject and deny each other," behaving as if they are the only ones present and there is no place for the other.
"Our fears determine our choices and our orientations. We are tired and disoriented by what is happening around us and we cannot find the direction for our journey. We do not find a star that guides us," he said.
But Christmas tells of "a joy and a peace" that comes if people will have the goodwill to open doors; "if we will share the goodwill of God which opens instead of closing, gives instead of taking, forgives instead of avenging oneself," Archbishop Pizzaballa said.
"Will we cross the threshold? It is not ... a slogan. It is an invitation addressed to man and to society, to politics and to economics, to the poor and the powerful of this world: Will we come out of our enclosures, will we open the door of our judgments and prejudices, and will we go to meet him who calls us?" he said.
The archbishop asked, "Will we go to Bethlehem to begin a new journey or will we be closed in our palaces to protect our power, to defend our interests, ready even to exclude the other while maintaining our positions?
"Keeping our gaze on the Holy Child, will we know how to give an answer to the thirst for justice and dignity, to the desire for love and brotherhood, to the need of encounter or will we put our trust in our short-term political or military strategies?"
The answer, he said, is not "written in the stars but in our free and responsible choices."