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Christmas is Christ with us

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
December 14, 2011

JUST in case we forget, Christmas is about Christ born to us. The reminder has become necessary because proofs of the disfiguring of Christmas are increasing.

No less than the Pope reminded us not to be dazzled by the shopping lights of the season but to keep focused on the coming of Jesus Christ, the “true light of the world.”

In a town in the US, a controversy erupted because a group put street signs saying, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Obviously when messages like that have to be put up in public, there must be something quite wrong in that place.

This was verified when another group precisely kicked up a fuss about it citing legal provisions. Instead, the group wanted their own banner to be hung in the streets, saying: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Ah, ok. No problem. We have freedom of expression and of consciences. If atheists want their messages publicized, that’s just fine. But let’s not deny believers their right also to show their faith in public, as long as public order is observed.

The legal basis of the group’s complaint is that the “Keep Christ in Christmas” signs were put on public property, which turned out to be false, since they were on private property. But that legal basis raises the questions like, should public property then be devoid of religious signs? Would religious signs already create public disorder?

I’ll leave the people concerned and their public authorities to resolve that issue, but I, frankly, just find the reasons behind the ban of religious signs on public property funny. To me, it’s taking the principle of Church-state separation to its ridiculous conclusions.

Truth is, for Christian believers, we need God, we need Christ, who is the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God who became man, to save us, to complete our creation, to give us a way to attain the fullness and perfection of our human dignity.

God is our creator. We, and the universe around us, just did not come to exist on our own, quite spontaneously out of nothing, since from nothing, nothing comes. We are not our own creator.

In our case, since we are creatures of reason and will, our creation by God has to be corresponded to with our reason and will also. Paraphrasing St. Augustine, we can say that if God created us without us, he cannot complete that creation without us. We need to correspond to God’s creation of us. We need to cooperate and bring it to its completion.

In other words, our creation by God is still a work in progress. And our life here on earth is precisely where that “progress” has to take place, where the lifelong drama of our correspondence or non-correspondence to God’s work becomes the ultimate purpose of our life.

This is a truth of faith that is actually meant for everyone, but especially more for believers than for non-believers. For the latter, we need a different tack that uses reason and philosophy more than faith and theology. This piece is addressed more to believers.

We need to be reminded that as Christian believers, we need to be ‘alter Christus,’ if not ‘ipse Christus,’ another Christ if not Christ himself. That’s because Christ is the very pattern of our humanity. We cannot live properly without him. Remember Christ saying, “I am the truth, the way, and the life…”

We become another Christ through God’s grace, but also through our cooperation, when we let our mind and heart, our intelligence and will to get engaged with Christ in the spirit.

In short, we need to assume the mind of Christ, following what St. Paul said that “we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2,16) We need to train ourselves for this ideal, realizing that our thoughts should not just be our thoughts, but also those of Christ. The same with our will, our desires, our plans, etc.

Our life is always a shared life with Christ. It’s a reflective life driven by reason and faith, and not just a life animated by the senses and reason alone.

For this, we need humility, otherwise we won’t allow faith to guide our reason. We need to study, develop virtues, so that Christ becomes alive in us, and true Christmas becomes a reality!