Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas in spite of everything

By Victor Codina (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Cristianisme i Justícia Blog
December 23, 2016

For a long time, in the bosom of the Christian people, very critical voices have risen up about Christmas -- the orgy of consumption, frantic purchase of gifts, food and drink, the chubby Santa Claus seeming to marginalize the Infant Jesus, carols being used as commercial propaganda, the Tree supplanting the manger, city lights having become marketing and a tourist attraction, there is leadership by people and institutions in charitable works at Christmastime... Christmas has become a solstice party ...

And all this as if in a bubble of well-being, on the margins of a world of violence and poverty, refugees and wars, with the heart anesthetized to the suffering of others.

True Christmas is different. What has happened is what is said of ants who, to be able to store wheat, cut off its germinal point. The West has tamed and perverted Christmas; it has ripped out its gospel nerve. All this is true and must be denounced prophetically. This bourgeois style of Christmas is the very opposite of the first Christmas. Today, Jesus is born again in Aleppo and Haiti, in the migrant and refugee camps of Lesbos and Lampedusa, in the victims of the Berlin bombing, in the new Christian martyrs of Egypt and the Middle East.

But what if, in spite of everything, the Christmas feast were to keep the mysterious light of Bethlehem on, because the darkness can never overcome the light? That families get together and often reconcile at Christmas, gifts to the little ones, especially the poor children, visits to prisons, hospitals and nursing homes, mangers in churches and families, a truce, sometimes, in the wars ... are these not a sign that, in spite of everything, the light and warmth of Christmas still linger amid the embers of so many ashes? Where does this sudden goodness that floods our hearts and sometimes our eyes these days spring from? No doubt this goodness is born from the manger of Bethlehem, the Child, the shepherds and angels who sing peace. And we also remember the old biblical prophecies that proclaim a new world, where the wolf and the lamb will graze together and a child will play with the serpent. The spirit of Christmas is never completely extinguished.

Because Christmas is not just a memory of the past but God the Father's plan for humankind -- a dream of filiation and fraternity, harmony and peace, love especially towards the least and marginalized. It is up to each and every one of us to make Christmas every day of the year so that the grain of gospel wheat does not lose its germinal power and produces true fruit. That is why, in spite of everything and in the midst of these ambiguities, Merry Christmas, the real one!

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