He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
For the past several weeks, we have mentioned, in one way or another, the concept of the earthly kingship of Jesus Christ. We went over the idea of Pope Pius XI that “the peace of Christ” in this world could only take place in “the reign of Christ” in this world. While Jesus Christ does not ask to reign as a worldly ruler, He does demand to rule in our minds, our wills, and in our hearts. There can be legitimate governments in this world, even among pagans, but no government rules legitimately if it refuses to observe the natural law which God has written in the hearts of men. More than an exercise of religion, the Commandments are the rules by which men and women must conduct themselves if society is to run in a peaceful and a productive manner.
Unfortunately, the society around us—once comparatively Christian in outlook—has become less and less so with the passage of time. A year or so ago one of our families gave me a little card with a timeline illustrating the ways in which the principles of Christianity and the natural law have become more and more outlawed by our courts. One could also add the variety of foreign policy initiatives which have supported anti-Christian governments in places that once were home to significant Christian populations: places like Serbia, Israel, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—and in places like Pakistan, India, and Saudi Arabia where Christianity is, in varying degrees, an illegal religion. Certainly we cannot ignore the hundreds of millions of our dollars spent annually on United Nations programs promoting abortion, contraception, and other immoral practices. One can go back more than a century, observing the demise of moral and Christian principles in our society, with very little difference being effected by changes in the political parties.
It would be wrong to confine our observations only to government. The whole direction of our thought—articulated in our schools and universities, as well as in the mass media—has moved farther and farther away from the moral law in general and Christ in particular. It has become “politically incorrect” to express an opinion that favors morality or reflects belief in God. It matters not at all that one may be expressing the truth, if it offends the sensibilities of those who reject Christ, or His truth, or His moral law. Fifty years ago an unpopular opinion would simply be scorned by those who disagreed—today it is possible to loose one’s job, be charged with a crime, and, in some places, even to go to jail, for expressing a politically incorrect opinion.
Apart from the usual letters of complaint to politicians and to editors and others who form public opinion, we often feel rather powerless to do anything about the secularization of our society. That should not stop us from writing such letters, nor from making our concerns known at the ballot box when there is a real choice to be made between politicians.
But I would like to suggest to you today that we are rapidly approaching another opportunity to make our displeasure about the secularization of society known to another set of people who mold the opinions of our society. I am talking about the merchants—those people who feel that we should spend massive amounts of money on consumer goods in celebration of something which they will only allow to be identified as “The Holidays.” Already this year there has been talk of boycotting certain retail chains because of their refusal to identify those “Holidays” by name. At least one of the chains has made positively insulting statements about the celebration of Christmas.
It is utterly inappropriate to take the holiday of Christ’s birth and make it into a means of commercial exploitation. For a long time, people have been shamed into buying things that will not be needed nor wanted by their recipients. Most of us feel obligated to buy Christmas presents for a large number of people, just because it is the socially correct thing to do. We have come a long way from the celebration of Christmas because of the joy we feel at the birth of God made man—to the idea of an inescapable social obligation which many cannot afford.
I am certainly not suggesting that Christian people ought to give up the celebration of Christmas. Not at all. But I am suggesting that we should move back closer to the idea of celebrating Christmas for the love of Christ, and as an expression of the love we feel for our families and friends because we love Christ. I would suggest also that our Christmas shopping ought not be done in a hostile environment. If a store refuses to mention the name of Christ and scrupulously avoids the display of Christmas scenes, we can find other places to shop. We live in a multicultural society, so there is nothing wrong with the idea that their might be other holidays celebrated at the same time—Chanukah, by the Jewish people, for example. But that is no reason to merge them all together, denying the religious realities which they represent—that ought to be as offensive to Jews as it is to Christians.
Finally, let me also ask you to consider making some of your Christmas presents religious in nature. Certainly there will still be secular toys for the kids, and warm sweaters for adults—but also consider giving things that expresses the religious nature of Christmas. A nativity scene, a piece of Christian jewelry, a spiritual book, a recording of Catholic hymns or Gregorian Chant, or maybe a piece of Christian artwork. We come from a rich culture, with many wonderful things to give to those whom we love.
The upcoming season of Christmas represents an opportunity to share with family and friends the joy which everyone should feel at the birth of Christ the redeemer, the Prince of Peace, who alone is capable of bring “the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ.” It also represents an opportunity to remind the forces of our society that if they want us to spend our money, it must be on something in which we believe, and not on some secularized imitation created by the politically correct.
Long live Christ the King! Let us not forget that Christmas is His birthday, and the reason for the celebration of the holiday we observe on December 25th.