Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Tuesday, 5 December 2023

The joy is still absent

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

In this month of every year, our streets, public squares, church gates and hotels are used to be decorated in beautiful fit outs in preparation for Christmas, which has turned since 1999 into a comprehensive community holiday and an official holiday for all citizens. Perhaps what is most absent this year is joy, especially in Palestine and Jordan, as the Council of Church leaders announced for both of them the removal of the external manifestations of the holiday, whereby the prayers will be confined within churches.


This is an act of solidarity par excellence. Prior to being an order presented by the Councils of Church leaders, it is a popular demand, and an expression of a pang impressed upon every honest person who witnesses the loss of lives in Gaza because of the under way aggression, whereby no one is inclined to make an expression of public joy. Indeed, this year marks the removal of the permanent annual Christmas decorations at the Manger Square, namely in the City of Christmas, that used to be permanently decorated with Christmas tree lit on these days. However, the fall of many martyrs on the land of Palestine, the forcible displacement of families after the demolishing of their homes with thousands of wounded people, made the Council of Churches undertake a decision that complies with what Christians feel these days, namely how can we rejoice when our people are suffering from aggression that has neither sufficed nor quenched its thirst for blood?


Our children are the ones who suffer more than others do. Every year, they impatiently wait for the visit of Santa Claus to their homes and schools in order to instill some joy and cheer in their innocent nature to the tune of Fayrouz’s Christmas carols and the music of the scout bands, that will make demonstrations this year without their musical instruments. The under way aggression has stripped people of their joy, especially the children. Furthermore, in lieu of the Christmas caravans that used to roam our streets every year, we find joy joining the caravan of those absent, namely, peace, justice, love, truth, conscience and hope.


Despite the pain caused by the absence of joy, it is an occasion to delve deeper into the depths of the spirit of Christmas through prayers, hymns, and the inner joy that no one can take away. It is also an opportunity to deepen the values of solidarity among the new generation, especially children who undoubtedly feel deprived of their beautiful and joyful things, but it is also an occasion to encourage them to develop the values of love and solidarity regarding what is happening against their peers and members of their generation in Gaza, whereby spiritual guides and teachers would provide in schools pictorial explanations on the merit of solidarity by instilling it deep in them rather than by being a form of deprivation, but rather as a sign of love and brotherly discernment towards all those who suffer.


On these days, the parishioners of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Tla' Al-'Ali have hosted an event organized by the “Iradat Rouh” Foundation for Human Resources Development  of Humanity, during which our beloved children with cancer presented songs and chants for the sake of noble Gaza. Do we want to look for Christmas joys and decorations that transcend the sincere presented feelings, which the trainers worked hard to make it successful, while the beloved children made their performance at a time when some of them have recovered and others are still receiving treatment? We pray for their recovery as we do for Gaza and Palestine to be healed from this extremely malicious occupation. Our region or rather the world will not enjoy peace until this occupation is eradicated and eliminated.


Joy is still absent, yet solidarity and refrainment from despair will restore it, so that all people will sing the Christmas hymn “Joy to the World”.