24 December.  4th Sunday of Advent.  Christmas Eve. Read, reflect, share, pray.  Light four candles on the Advent wreath and pray.  Granny Toni shared how she remembered her pilgrimage in 2005 and what she had seen and experienced in the cave below the old Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. A very strong sense of motherly tenderness had come over her just thinking of the vulnerable little baby Jesus born in such poverty. 

For the Peace Children the time came that everyone had all been waiting for.  As the evening grew dark on that peaceful night a little army of children filled Manger Square outside the ancient church in Bethlehem, dating back to the early days of Christianity.   In a way, just like for Mary and Joseph 2000 years ago, there was no room for them in the inn either, as the place of the birth of Jesus, believed to be in the cave now under the church, was too small for them all to stand around. So they made their own circle, a tight circle, made up of 50 bodies and hands intertwined, holding one another close.  The crib was in the centre, with specially chosen parents in the role of Mary and Joseph and farm animals brought in from the countryside.  The baby’s crib was surrounded by lights and connected by ribbons from the different countries making like a great big star on a great big world map.  As the bells of the world rang out at midnight, Brother Francis brought the baby Jesus, as St Francis  had done 800 years ago in Italy, and tenderly laid it in the manger. Who could say that it wasn’t an angel choir that sang so sweetly, “Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus.”  Yes, it is possible to say, to believe and to live that message that the Peace Children had to take back home with them to countries where peace was still a dream.  “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all people of goodwill.

Scripture &  Pope Francis:  Put on Jesus, and go, the world needs you. Love, peace and joy to every child, every family and every home.