On this Christmas Eve, at a time when “our society and our families need light and warmth”, Monsignor François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio for Corsica, invites the islanders “to stock up on hope during the celebrations and to meet again in joy”.
Live in brotherhood with all, in joy and hope that echo the birth of Jesus. In a few very simple words, this is the spirit of Christmas, according to Monsignor François-Xavier Bustillobishop ofAjaccio for the Corsica.
And so that everyone can enter into this joy, throughout the days that preceded the sweet and holy night, he accomplished what he considers to be his mission as a bishop. It consists, “throughout Christmas week, visiting places where humanity is needed. I can’t be indifferent to these places of loneliness and pain“. His thoughts go, among others, to the “prisoners, the sick, the elderly“. The Christmas message is for “to those who are well and to those who are most vulnerable. Christmas is Christmas for everyone“.
This is the spiritual standard attached to celebrating amid illuminations and gifts. “The Christmas party is symbolic in the etymological sense of the term. She seeks and creates unity“, he insists. In the same movement, it conveys “true values for our society. Commitment, support, unity, protection of a fragile being, joy, peace, simplicity, humility. These values are not learned from Wikipedia. They are seen, they are experienced and they are transmitted within the family and cultural framework. The Nativity is a way of being and of living“, he continues.
A fragile and weak little child
Referring to the current context characterized by inflation, social tensions, the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine, he calls for “do not give in to sadness, discouragement“ who “pull down”. It warns of the risk “of a certain relational hermeticism” which cannot be ruled out. “We think we protect ourselves, we confine ourselves. It’s dangerous“he comments, while recalling that Christmas, which elevates to the level of “being-together”, still allows “joy in fragility. Do not be afraid of your personal fragility, do not be afraid of the fragility of your families. God manifests himself in fragility“.
And the Nativity with this weak and fragile little child who came into the world without effects, on straw, is likely to bring comfort and the strength to overcome many trials. What support our existence in short. “Jesus was not born in a clean palace. He was born in a poor cave, on the outskirts of the city of Bethlehem. Jesus does not make speeches at birth. He is an ”infans”, the one who does not speak. God speaks to the world through his simple and faithful presence. The spirit of Christmas should dress our lives so that they are less difficult, less bland, perhaps and much kinder, more welcoming, more benevolent”, he develops.
And love calls love. “Love your loved ones. When we love, we elevate the spirit, we experience the Nativity, the incarnation of God’s love.”
Christmas time will also be the time of the wonder that we feel when faced with the beauty of the world in general and the nativity scene in particular. “It is part of our heritage. When you look at the nativity scene, you see something beautiful, simple: the family, the animals, the angels“, insists the monk. Beyond the Gospel accounts, there is also room for “the evocation of work, peace, humility. The nativity scene must arouse admiration“.
Transmission and tradition
And we cannot make this representation, source of contemplation, an argument of division. “To create polemics around the crib is equivalent to perverting the spirit of this one.” Because the crib is a symbol and the symbolic is, in itself, significant of unity. “Sometimes we politicize symbols. By politicizing the nursery, we will sow confusion and division. It’s a shame. I’m for the symbolic and not for the controversy“analyzes the bishop.
For Monsignor Bustillo, these days are also associated with a particular emotion felt for “our land of Corsica. We live in a land of traditions and transmissions. Our principles of life, our values, come for the most part from the Christian faith. Our ancestors have passed on to us beautiful traditions that root us not in myths but in traditions.”.
He assures him, “there is a unique and free way to experience Christmas on the island. There is the meal as everywhere, the midnight mass, the songs”. The sequence becomes “initiation pilgrimage”.
Everyone follows the path followed by their parents and grandparents before them, like an eternal beginning, just like Christmas. “Each year, this holiday returns to remind us, with its regularity, who we are and where we come from. The icon of Christmas is a magnificent message for our humanity in search of a landmark”, he concludes.
Before formulating the wish that the year 2023 be that of “peace in families, in society and in the Church of Corsica”, as well as regained health “at all levels, social, relational and spiritual”.
“See you, good Natale! Pace e salute in grazia di Diu!”
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Monsignor François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Corsica: “The Nativity is a way of being and of living”
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