Christmas Pilgrim flees from the places of Christ
AGI – zero lights. Zero Hajjaj. Work zero zero zero. Could Christmas be more sad and lonely than the places of Christ? Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth: all of them are weakening, and if it were not holy, it would be a wasteland. The blockade on the arrival of foreigners, just released, simply seals a desperate situation, and does not create it. The same Latin patriarch, Pierluigi Pizzaballa, admits this without many words: It is a birthday that “is far-fetched, to be forgotten. It has been this way since February, the season of the dead has been followed by a sadder season: “2020 was a year of fear: health, economics, even politics… Everything seems to have been upended by this small and powerful virus, which has led to the cancellation of our projects. Quickly and left us in a state of confusion. ” Pomegranate juice, a sudden storm in Jerusalem that usually saw a long December month of movement, history, religion and business. It was difficult to pass through the column door as narrow and from the angle as it is. The Shawkan went down, one towards the Wailing Wall and the other towards the Armenian Quarter among the rows of shops running in the market or antiques dealers overgrown with Orthodox icons that came from who knows where and who knows when. Now the doors were still open, the merchants, but couldn’t put more than a few pomegranate juices or a few Turkish coffee. Good pastry shops in the suburbs of Bethlehem struggle to put in honey and pistachio sweets, and no one is going to scratch the walls of the Milk Grotto: they help those who want to have a baby, but in order to want a child, you have to be of great faith or great optimism. The first will be there, and the second is missing. On Christmas, with its beautiful mosaics and pillars that the Italians restored a few years ago, the Midnight Mass will be celebrated according to the ecclesiastical schedule. But religious people will only be accepted from the nearby monastery. Believers stay at home. Those Who Remained: Bethlehem has seen a strong wave of immigration in recent years among Palestinian Christians, who now form a small minority in the city. Who would have thought it would happen? A year ago, just twelve months ago, the future looked brighter. The political situation was calm, and tourism was declining. In the past three years, the number of admissions has doubled. So much so that the true concern of the Franciscan monks who look after the guardianship of the Holy Land was, if anything, the preservation of the religious character of the trips. Believers and non-tourists. But the latter began to top, so much so that the guard himself, Father Francesco Patton, recommended: “At this moment we need to remind pilgrims what it means to be pilgrims.” This is meditation, not a selfie. He added that it almost foreshadowed something: “Jerusalem is an unpredictable city; like summer days, a storm can come suddenly.” Yes, he was hinting at a sudden ripple in the waters of international politics, but to re-read these words in light of the Coronavirus, you cannot help but feel shudder. The storm had arrived, and it was worse than expected. Brothers and sisters, clinging to tightly at the time of the first lockdown, reservations were more than promising. In fact, it’s still growing on excellent data already the previous year: 600,000 reservations for festivities in various sanctuaries across the territory, 160,000 from the United States alone and 80,000 from Italy, but the harvest was well below these expectations: Easter Before Christmas and now Christmas is in the worst moments of contagion, and summer is definitely not the best time to challenge the temperatures in the Middle East, even if Jerusalem is 700 meters above sea level. Almost two hundred thousand foreigners were expected to roam the streets of the Holy City in these hours. Less than half reached half. On the other hand, the virus has been severely affected, and the vaccination campaign is expected to have a salvific effect. The patriarch, Pizzaballa, was also in solitary confinement in the middle of the month. Days ago, religious leaders from various Christian denominations sent a message to their flocks to mark the anniversary. And they said in complete harmony: “God’s presence with us is a source of encouragement and support, especially in these exceptional times of epidemic, economic crisis, injustice and the increase in violence against the vulnerable and the vulnerable.” It is a call to be reborn, and in the meantime, to hold together.