January 31, 2023

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Sermon on Christmas Eve Mass

What is this great light that appears in the midst of darkness?

It will not be superfluous to talk about darkness: it is a question of different crises that we must face, one after another, now without interruption: from finance to the environment, from migration to health, from energy to war. These are crises which, if seen on the part of the poor countries, turn into utter darkness, if seen on our part and on the part of the poor who live in Italy or here in Padua, they become discouraging, disillusioned, melancholy and generate dangers. Social tensions and instability. Even young people tell us about it in the way that sets them apart.

In this darkness we seek light. We need light, existential horizons, spiritual paths and orientations; We need support and security to feel safe and protected. We have sought some light from politics: Italian, regional or individual municipalities. The European who is becoming increasingly decisive even if it is not easy to perceive. Some of the political choices made on the occasion of voting come more from dissent or protest than from upholding political and cultural values, hoping (hope is a search for light) to bring about fundamental changes.

A lot of times we look at global politics in particular at fiscal policy. We report to the United States, China and India as if some ray is coming from there. We seek light in the science we relied on during the pandemic. Even in our ordinary or serious illnesses, our first thought turns to medical science: from there we expect a solution, light, and hope. For example, the new hospital in our city is a hymn to science and scientific research. Science and technology, once again, will unite for the advancement of our society and thus to create service excellence.

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Even considering the current war in Ukraine, we debate support options: more funding for weapons or political dialogues and mediation? But is it possible to find a solution between an occupying country and an attacking country without returning to the conditions that existed before the aggression? Without technology, science, politics and finance, there is no progress and no peace. These are the components that we’re looking at and that we’re waiting for some light on.

Is there room in all this for the light whose radiance we sing tonight? Is there room for tenderness and fragility of the child? What is this great light that appears in the midst of darkness?

Yes, there is room, and it is an important, fundamental and indispensable place, provided that our eyes change and dare to look at what science, technology, politics and finance cannot achieve or overcome: «The essential is invisible to the eye», Saint-Exupéry said, “One can see well only with the heart “.

There is a state of limitations in man and in the world, extreme poverty, a sky that no tower can conquer, a tree whose fruit cannot be plucked, an age of life in which it cannot be bred: the barrenness of Elizabeth, the old age of Zacharias, the virginity of Mary is the story of our limitations, of the limitations of every man and every woman and our human society.

It is not a question of underestimating or underestimating our intelligence and capabilities. There can be no world without politics, without financial regulation, without scientific and technical research: we owe much of the progress that has been made to the commitment of man…but we declare it incomplete.

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This light that appears in the darkness is something else: it is a gift, it comes from above, it was not born uncreated, it is of the same essence as God, it is God from God, light from light.

For this reason I was born from the virginity of Mary, from the non-participation of Joseph, from the barrenness of Elizabeth and from the old age of Zacharias.

This light multiplies and increases the joy of the heart and the world. He does not stop what is human and what man has as a dowry for the improvement of the world, but brings it to its full beauty and true meaning.

The disciples experienced this light when the Lord Jesus rose from the dead: Magdalene searches for Him thirsting for light When darkness falls, Peter and the young men run to the tomb drawn by His light, Mary Magdalene calls him Master, Lord, and then all together the disciples, first without Thomas and then with Thomas, welcome Jesus Behind closed doors, they bowed before Him, saying, “My Lord and my God.” Like us tonight in the face of the mystery of this intervention that, like the one that happened at Easter, is tearing the heavens apart and bursting into the world!

In this Christmas event, we see the reflection of the great light of Easter. This great light that Isaiah prophesied about is the light of the Risen Lord!

It is a new light, which descends from above as a gift, as a light to give meaning to our work, to our knowledge and to the relationships that we live, in our day, in our past, present and future.

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May our eyes be opened to the light of the Child Jesus: Happy Birthday!

+ Claudius, bishop