It’s more than a month before Christmas and the city streets of Zurich are already covered in lights. A never-ending row of shops, a sophisticated but exorbitant richness. We are in what is perhaps the richest country of the world. To the left of our car a row of shop windows catches our attention. Through the window it is snowing gently: an optical illusion.

Boys and girls on sledges pulled by reindeer and Disney animals. Still more sledges and Santa Claus and little deer, piglets, hares, frogs, puppets and red dwarfs. Everything is moving gracefully. Oh! There are the angels… But no! They are fairies, recently invented to adorn the snow-white scene. A child with his parents stands on tiptoe and watches, fascinated.

But in my heart is disbelief and then, almost rebellion: this rich world has entrapped Christmas and all that goes with it, and has evicted Jesus! It loves the poetry, the atmosphere, the friendship that Christmas brings, the gifts it suggests, the lights, the stars, the songs. It looks to Christmas for the best profits of the year. But to Jesus it gives no thought.

“He came to his own home and his own people received him not…” Last night, I didn’t sleep. This thought kept me awake. If I were to be born again, I would do many things. I would found a Work at the service of the Christmases of all people on earth; I would print the most beautiful cards in the world; I would produce statues, large and small, of the most exquisite art; I would record poems and songs, past and present; I would illustrate books for children and adults on this ‘mystery of love’; I would write scripts for plays and films.

I don’t know what I would do…

Today I thank the Church for having saved the images.

Years ago, when I was in a country dominated by atheism, a priest
was carving sculptures of angels to remind people of heaven.

Today I understand him better.

The practical atheism, which is now invading the whole world, demands it.

Certainly, keeping Christmas while banning the Newborn causes sadness.

Let us, at least in our own homes, shout out the One who is born, celebrating his coming as never before.

Chiara Lubich, Christmas 1980
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