Speaking on the third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis said: “The awareness that in difficulties we can always turn to the Lord, and that He never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy. Shout with joy, rejoice, rejoice: this is the invitation of this Sunday.

“No worries, no fear, will ever take away the serenity that does not come from human things, from human consolations, no, the serenity that comes from God, from knowing that God lovingly guides our life, and always does.

“Rejoice, small Christian community, poor and humble but beautiful in My eyes because you crave My Kingdom, you are hungry and thirsty for justice, you patiently weave a fabric of peace... [and] faithfully remain close to the poor.”

Permits to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem

The Israeli government is making it hard for Palestinian Christians to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem.  Gaza parish priest Fr Mario da Silva said that although Israel this year approved 500 permits only 250 permits were, in fact, available and only for people aged over 55 or between 16 and 35. But children under 16 were not included.

He said: “Israel is using a policy of separation between parents and children. It would give a permit to the father but deprive the mother and the children of the same document. Thus, the family decides not to go and stays together in Gaza. Gaza’s Christians should not require permits to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. It is their right to travel and pray without restrictions.”

There are about 1,100 Palestinian Christians among roughly two million living in the Gaza Strip.

Importance of social love

During an audience with a delegation of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, the Pope said: “We need a justice that besides being a father is also a mother. The gestures of mutual care, characteristic of love that is also civil and political, are manifested in all actions that are intended to build a better world.

“In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity. In this framework, social love moves us to think about strategies that encourage a culture of care in different areas of life in common. The work you do is part of that effort to which we are called.”

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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