With all the Santas, jingle bells, elves and whatevers, along with the reluctance of some to recognize the religious origins of the holiday, the significance of Christmas is often lost in the glitz. True, “sharing” is emphasized and we are encouraged to give, and that’s a plus, but the Prince of Peace does get short shrift.
Christmas celebrates the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, believed to be the Son of God. He spent his short time on earth challenging the religious, social and economic structures of the day, and was crucified by the government for being an insurrectionist.
Two thousand years later, those who challenge religious, social, and economic structures are still considered insurrectionists.
They aren’t put to death, at least in democratic countries, so I guess that’s progress, but now something else may be happening. Just as some governments, including ours, are turning into Scrooges, one religious leader with considerable global clout is doing the opposite.
Pope Francis is not only moving away from the traditional pomp and ceremony usually attached to the top Roman Catholic office, he is campaigning for peace, social justice and democracy. He has been named newsmaker of the year not only by Time Magazine, but also by The Advocate, a magazine that promotes Gay rights. Pretty impressive for someone who has been in office for such a sort time.
Pope Francis can hardly be dismissed as a left-wing troublemaker, so he should be a formidable champion, 18 per cent of the world’s Christians are Catholic and the church is represented in most, if not all, counties.
Many people, Christian and otherwise, like what he is saying and doing. There will be naysayers for sure, but Christmas is an appropriate time to wish him well in his endeavours. And on that note, Merry Christmas to all and have a happy holiday too.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.