Evidently, Christmas is on its way out.
Evidently, everyone is celebrating it wrong. People are celebrating too early, or not enough, or not in the right way; people aren’t giving enough, or not giving for the right reasons; society is replacing Christmas carols with secular music and Merry Christmas has now become Happy Holidays.
Do you hear what I hear?
The bah-humbugs and grumblings are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’ Grinch who stands on a mountaintop overlooking Whoville and laments, “All the noise, noise, NOISE!”
It’s a noise accompanied with a lot of finger pointing, and as a Catholic I am not sure where it is coming from. Lately, whether it was during the last presidential election or now during Advent, there seems to be a prevailing sense of I’m right and you’re wrong; not only that, but I’m right and that makes me better than you.
Now, I would be the first to say that we should defend our faith; that we need to speak up and be heard when some of our basic beliefs are under attack. But there is a fine line between defending our tenets and becoming judgmental when others don’t see or do things our way. It’s an easy trap to fall into and, more importantly, it exacerbates the problem rather than offers it a solution. It creates a mentality of us vs. them which, let’s face it, is drawing the proverbial line in the sand which, in turn, makes it all too easy to seek out others who are like-minded and fuel each other’s indignation.
But is this living Christ’s message, to hole up in our communities, our churches, and our homes? Do we surround ourselves with others who are just like us, barricade ourselves in and, from the safety of our communities, churches and homes, write nasty letters to the editor, post rants on Facebook, and righteously high five everyone around us that we are right and everyone else is so wrong?
During this time of year we are especially mindful of Christ’s entrance into the world. Rather than sending an army and forcing change, God sent an infant who was innocent and non-threatening, welcoming and not judging. People came to see the infant who simply was. Later, when Christ began his ministry, again people came; they didn’t come to be accused, but to be enlightened. The rod of discipline of the Old Testament became the Good Shepherd’s staff of the New Testament, a staff which is not used as a means of discipline, but as a way to corral and guide.
At the end of every Mass we are all sent forth into the world to witness ... not to accuse or judge, but to witness (in Latin, the Mass ends with Ite missa est, which in English translates to Go, it is sent) . It’s not an easy thing to do, especially if we don’t get to know others or give them an opportunity to know us. When was the last time we had someone of a different faith (or no faith at all) over for dinner? Socialized with someone outside our clique, or welcomed someone of a different race or ethnicity into our home?
So, instead of fretting how Christmas is or isn’t being celebrated, be the shining star. And maybe, just maybe we’ll discover how all that noise simply gets in the way of the fact that we are more alike than we are different; that Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Not at all.
In the end, how did the Grinch steal Christmas?
He didn’t. He couldn’t.
It came just the same.