Brasilia (Fides Service) - “In Bethlehem Jesus did not find good will. In fact there was no place for him at the inn or in homes. There was no room among the rich. In Bethlehem Jesus was welcomed by the poor, the shepherds, the first to adore him. All they had to offer was the fruit of their labour” Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop of São Salvador de Bahia and President of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference said at the 12th meeting of the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral care 14 and 15 December. Speaking of Christmas, the Cardinal encouraged people to have the same sentiments as those who welcomed Jesus so that the Kingdom of God may spread. “We must be like Jesus. We are the image of Christ sent to announce the Good News and restore hope in the only Saviour”. Cardinal Geraldo Majella ended by saying that solidarity is a sign that Jesus is in our presence: “Everything we do to others, we do to Jesus. So like Jesus let us do good all through life”.
In Brazil it is a tradition for communities and families to make the Christmas Novena with the help of handbooks prepared by different dioceses and groups. The Bishops’ Conference also prepares a handbook which is distributed all over the country. For Christmas 2004 the novena has the theme “Gathered in the family preparing for the Lord’s coming ”. The Novena was prepared in keeping with the National Evangelisation Programme “We want to see Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Mgr Pedro Scherer secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference said, “the novena includes meetings for prayer, bible study, catechesis, mission for groups, families and neighbourhoods anxious to prepare for Christmas”. In Rio de Janeiro, and other cities in Brazil the Christian Life Movement has launched a campaign “Christmas is Jesus”, to carry the joy of Jesus to more than 3,000 families in city slums and poor districts. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 17/12/2004, righe 24, parole 365)