Following is the text of the interview conducted with Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa by Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader on Friday November 27, 2020:
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa: I want first of all to greet all of you, spread all over the world, and those who are connected with the Christians here in Holy Land and especially in Jerusalem. We are starting the preparation to Christmas, the Advent. The Advent is two main points together with prayer; prayer is always stable. The first is the vigilance, the second is penance.
Vigilance means to be able to be always watchful, to be able to see the signs of presence of God in the life, like the guardian who always with eyes on the flock. And so, in this Christmas, we are to be vigilant and try to see the presence of God in the life, in the history, in the present situation. But in order to be able to be vigilant, according to the will of God, we also need to penance, we need to recognize that we are sinners. We need forgiveness from God, and to be able to see the life in the like of God.
Now, I was thinking about this Advent in our present situation. Our present situation is very difficult; the pandemic brought worsened as our situation, our life. Our life was already difficult especially in the land of Jordan and all our countries but everywhere, the pandemic affected everyone.
And the pandemic worsened the situation especially for the economic part of view not only health of view but also economic part of view and also what is characterizing also our life now is the fear. We are fearing about the next future. We lost job since months, we cannot have incomes, we also fear for our life, our relatives, father, mothers, children, and so on, school. School system almost collapsing and the perspective also is very difficult to have a perspective for the future. When there is a war, we know the situation is clear. Here is an enemy, here is the friends, we try to organize ourselves. But in this situation, we are lost. We do not know, We do not have clear ways to protect ourselves and so on. So how to live, and how to live this situation taking into consideration what God recommends us in this period, vigilance, penance? It seems to have very far things from our present life and also Christmas. Christmas, we celebrate life.
The life of the Lord came among us. How to celebrate all this? So, I think it is important to put things in order. What these pandemic reminds us in this situation… reminds us that there is not only physical life. There is also eternal life because if everything is a physical life, everything finishes here. So, we have to protect the physical life in all the aspects and we forget that there is also eternal life.
And what eternal life is? What is eternal? Love. Love is eternal. All the other things will disappear. Love will never disappear, and the love is really here because we love people. And the love of people remains. And the love of God remains. So what we are called to do first of all as Christians is to remind ourselves that we are made of love, and love is not just emotion. Love is concreteness.It is life how to help each other, to support each other. Maybe, we cannot help completely, but we can say a word. Words are important. We need words of consolation. We need to express solidarity among us especially in these difficult situation. And I think everyone of us remembers, as usual, in this life a moment of difficulty, we remember who was close to us, who gave us a word of consolation. So, in this period of pandemic of fear, of uncertainty, we are called to be vigilant and see the presence of God, and when we see it? In the act of love. When we do and receive something that it is consolation of love.
This year Christmas will be less festive than usual because there will be restrictions, I suppose, like in all the worlds. But, may be the civil law will forbid us to celebrate as we want; may be the pandemic also will restrict us but no one will refrain us to express the true meaning of Christmas which is to make an act of love. Maybe the restriction in the family, simple, less things, less Christmas trees whatever, but
the true meaning of Christmas is the act of love. God is present among us. This presence now passes through our acts of love. So my wish , my prayer I encourage everyone to do something for this, to celebrate in this way Christmas and to be vigilant, to be able to see despite all this presence here among us.
Fr. Bader: Thank you very much for these encouraging words. Can we conclude with a question about a week before your official entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. What are your expectations as a new pastor of the Holy City of Jerusalem in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem?
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa: I here have two attitudes, namely peace and serenity because I believe that despite everything God is always able to bring His will, and this is the will of God, and so long that this is the will of God then we are in peace. But I believe that in the will of God everything is possible and I am confident. I know the Church after these years that we will be able to build the Kingdom of God because there is also a lot of commitment. So, I am positive.
Fr. Bader: In this week after the entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher there will be a priest who will celebrate ordination and new deacons to be ordained. It is a good sign for the Latin Patriarchate and for the future of our clergy. What do you say to our clergy?
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa: I say to the priests to look to the signs that God is giving us. With the new vocations, the seminary is going on and despite everything the community desires that and prays together. So look at the positive side of our life and continue to build on this.
Fr. Bader: Please remember all our people in your first Holy Mass next Saturday because a lot of people are sick and being hospitalized while the elderly are staying in their homes. They are suffering and a lot of people are among the loved ones who passed away recently.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa: I will bring all these needs in front of the tomb of Lord Jesus. The prayer of the suffering is the expectation of all our people in all our Church.
Fr. Bader: Thank you very much.