Thursday, 08 December 2011 12:09
The big question that can be asked about Christmas is… has it failed? Two thousand years after the birth of the boy from Nazareth, who grew up as the son of a village carpenter, turned spiritual revolution, his heart turning message of universal rights, peace and justice has seemingly been rejected, ignored or compromised.
There is much evil in the world and we ask ourselves if we followers have done as he asked and tried to change the world? Have we been active and alive, lovingly helping our neighbors like the Good Samaritan? Have we done nothing, helped no one? “Faith without action is dead”, writes St. James in the New Testament.
In much of society materialistic pagan-like carnivals have replaced the spiritual revolution Jesus preached. Even the word Christmas has been replaced with Seasons Greetings. Keeping Christ out of Christmas is the norm. For many it is no longer a celebration of the birth of the greatest person the world has ever known but a hedonistic holiday, a time to party, eat to excess, get drunk and indulge in selfish pursuits.
This is a challenge for all followers who believe that justice and truth is more important than lies and exploitation; that love of neighbor is greater and more noble than hatred and oppression, that working for freedom for the innocent and to reduce hunger and disease is a great Christian virtue.
Christmas is the time when we renew our belief in these spiritual values and turn them into action by helping others without looking for a reward.
The child from Nazareth grew to be a prodigy of inspiration and wisdom. From his earliest years he saw in the temple the contradictions of established religion and its hypocritical compromises with the cruel despotic secular world.
Many years later he returned there as a prophet and teacher and chased away the money changers who had commercialized the house of God. He challenged the religious authorities to end abuse, to be compassionate to the poor, do justice and end oppression. They killed him for that.
Christmas is more than twinkling lights, rites and ritual hymns and Halleluiahs. Without a commitment to lasting values the Christmas celebration is no more than money making, jingle bells and a peacock in a pear tree.
Christmas is the celebration of the values that Jesus lived and died for. It’s the time for us to renew our commitment to live them daily. To be one with Christ is to oppose violence, war, fear, child and women abuse, exploitation. It is planting and nurturing peace, unselfish love, kindness, justice and the dignity of the person. Many have done just that and have achieved remarkable results in the past fifty years.
These sublime Christian values, moral and spiritual, coming from the teaching and practice of Jesus of Nazareth have seeped into society. In developed countries greater recognition of the rights of poor, the hungry, sick, unemployed and homeless people is evident through welfare and social services. Despite ongoing roll backs and austerity, it’s better than 100 years ago. There is much to be positive, optimistic and joyful about.
While much, much more has yet to be achieved especially in the developing world, women’s and children rights and dignity are now highly recognized and protected. The conventions on human rights especially the rights of the child, women, workers and many more are big steps forward in our time and we have to continue working for their implementation around the world.
Unthinkable in the past we can now witness the International Criminal Court bringing tyrants and mass murderers to justice and convicting them for their crimes against humanity. Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested recently and flown to The Hague to stand trial. Arrest warrants are out for Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir for allegedly committing war crimes in Darfur. Many more accused are facing the court.
It was Jesus of Nazareth who brought these values into the world and it started that first Christmas. It was and is a lasting success. It is our task as followers and believers to further establish, prolong and extend them to all humanity and give to as many as possible a more just and happy life.
By Fr. Shay Cullen
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- 09/12/2011 11:11 - Peace and order must be Jalosjos' top priority
- 09/12/2011 11:10 - P-Noy strikes at the Supreme Court
- 09/12/2011 11:10 - Be alert for Satan's Snares (Part One)
- 08/12/2011 12:09 - Pursuing peace
- 08/12/2011 12:08 - Jalosjos promises no pre-condition to supporters
- 08/12/2011 12:06 - President Aquino’s speech at the 1st National Criminal Justice Summit, December 5, 2011 (English)
- 07/12/2011 11:16 - The loneliest woman in Asia?
- 07/12/2011 11:15 - Seeking justice, end to impunity
- 07/12/2011 11:14 - Feast of Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 is holy day of obligation for Catholics