Wednesday, November 30, 2011
December is here, and soon, Christmas. I wrote this article last year and decided to dig it out of my archive and post it on this first day of December. I have read a lot of Facebook entries about the word "Christmas", "Keeping Christ in Christmas" and the use of the word "holiday" to replace "Christmas." This is a very relevant concern since it is, sadly, the practice of the times. It's obviously a symptom of a deeper illness afflicting our society which is secularism. It puzzles me how a tradition and celebration which has gone on for centuries, and seems to be appreciated by a lot of people, if not by all, can suddenly be questioned and attacked. But then again, some may argue, "what's the big fuss over a name? So it's Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. So what?
Well, in this case, there is more to a name. This is a subject that is personal and goes deeper into the heart of what the celebration is about. If we bring this to the everyday experience, we sure can understand how people get offended if their family name is misspelled, mispronounced or even dragged to a sort of scandal. That causes a sting in our hearts and mind. Christmas came to be because of Christ. He is the beginning of this event we call Christmas. Even though people try to separate, or worse yet, eliminate the sacred from this event, it cannot be done without appearing to be a hypocrite. Christmas is the story of Jesus' birth, whether one likes to admit it or not, Christ is in Christmas. I don't buy this attitude of changing things just to please everybody. If we cannot agree on even one thing, let us at least be respectful of our differences. It is an act of justice to give one his or her due. That goes for God too. Christmas is God's great event. Let us give him his due.
"Holiday", no," Holy day", yes!
Now, having said all that, there is another point I would like to bring out. It is naive to think we can take the bull by the horn. People will do what they believe they should do. It's sad to say but sometimes people are carried by the "herd mentality." Monkey see, monkey do, is another way of putting it. Most of them just go along with what seems to be fashionable or politically correct at the moment. Most of the time malicious intent is not a factor although that happens too. My point is, we cannot control people's actions but we can control ours. I'll give you an example:
Just before Christmas, I went to Barnes & Noble to do a last minute Christmas shopping for a book Dad wanted to get for a gift. When my turn came up at the cashier, the young lady very nicely handed me my change and smilingly said, "Happy Holidays!" I was wearing my habit but that did not make a difference. I smiled back at her and said, "Yes, Merry Christmas!" She smiled back and shyly said, "Yes, Merry Christmas!" My point is that we cannot police the world and change every single anomaly that happens. We can only do what is right and hope that we can make a difference in the place we are and in the circumstances we find ourselves in. There are a lot of good people out there, especially young people, who are as confused and baffled about what is right and wrong. The act is not always a declaration of war. Truth is to be proclaimed, that it absolutely true. But it should be proclaimed in charity and in peace, distanced from passion and anger, as much as possible. Otherwise, we become the evil we are trying to fight.
I find that when I think this way I can have the peace that Jesus brings. "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives but as I give" Jesus says. We cannot be at peace if we are always reacting to every evil out there. Our business is to follow the Lord. We should have a "holy indifference" to every thing that goes around us. Not because we don't care, not because we are pacifists, but because we know that there is a lot that can be achieved by prayers. Let us begin with ourselves. Let us do what we want others to do, and be faithful to God in the circumstances He has put us and our light will shine inevitably. People will notice and we can change their hearts by our example. Saint John of the Cross had a motto: "Well and good if all things change, O God, provided we are rooted in YOU!"