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The Holy Land and Christmas

This year, there will be no festive celebrations during the Christmas season in Bethlehem or in other Christian communities in the war-torn Holy Land.

That’s because local Church leaders have appropriately judged that a celebratory spirit is impermissible this year, in light of the ongoing retaliatory military campaign Israel launched in the Palestinian territory of Gaza against Hamas in response to the Oct. 7 atrocities Hamas militants committed against innocent Israelis.

Does this mean that, for the beleaguered Christians of the Holy Land, the miracle of Christmas will be stripped this year of its central meaning? No, it doesn’t.

Even in times and places like the Holy Land of today, where hatred and conflict seem indelibly entrenched, we should recall the reason why Jesus Christ chose to enter into our lives as a defenseless baby more than 2,000 years ago.

The Son of God assumed human form and was born into a humble manger in Bethlehem for a singular purpose. He came to communicate the hope of eternal salvation to a broken humanity that was suffering then, as now, from the wounds of violence, injustice, hatred and the other grave sins that are an inescapable component of living in this fallen world.

And he was born into a Holy Land that was far from peaceful.

At the time, the Jewish people were living under a brutal and oppressive Roman occupation that had stripped them of their freedoms and taxed away a large share of their incomes.

In fact, the reason the birth of Jesus took place in such a humble and difficult setting was because his mother Mary and her husband Joseph had been forced to travel to Bethlehem, in the depth of winter, to participate in a census mandated by Roman authorities. Lacking money for any better lodging when they arrived, the manger was their only option.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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