You don’t have to be a believing Christian to believe in the values of Christmas. They are universal. They uphold the human dignity and right of every human being irrespective of religion, race or status. Believer or not, Jesus of Nazareth whose birth we celebrate was a wise man of great principles and he brought a message of hope, peace, love, justice and human dignity into the world. Believers hold he is the revered Son of God.
The Christmas festivities are a positive reinforcement of Christian faith in the values and principles he brought into the world that are valid today as they were on the day he spoke them. Blessed are the poor for they have a right to the land, he said. Blessed are the oppressed, they have a right to justice and freedom. Blessed are they who are oppressed and threatened with death, for they deserve freedom and life and many more.
He was hailed as a messiah, a savior of the world to save it from wrongdoing. He was the child destined to be the prophet of justice and truth, love and a champion of human dignity. He was driven as a refugee and migrant out of his home because of the threats of violence and murder. By virtue of that alone, all refugees and migrants have a right to a fair welcome and help.
Blessed are they who give a welcome for there was none for the Holy Family on the day of his birth. This child was born among animals, his family was excluded from the inn and in later life he was rejected and thrown out of the synagogue in his hometown.
He was the one that spoke out and challenged rulers of society to change, respect the poor and to share their wealth and the national resources to make a just society. He was undaunted by criticism and challenge and being despised and vilified, he brought his mission to national attention and captivated the world and changed it.
The child from Bethlehem established the inalienable rights of all. He was the child who would place children as the most important in the Kingdom whose rights and dignity would be exalted and respected. But they are not respected by politicians and leaders and society but are abused, tortured and rejected.
He was the child destined to call the sinners to repent and to transform the world. He passed that message to throngs that came to believe, respect and live out those values in daily practice. So all of us are challenged to accept and live them faithfully in one’s own life, in the family and in society.
The greatest value of all is love of the unknown stranger, like that shown by the good Samaritan, and respect, forgiveness, compassion, healing and saving our fellow human beings. To practice them and persuade society to implement the values is a mission and give meaning and purpose to our lives.
If we believe in his values then we are called to lift the poor from misery and poverty, to bring social equality and dignity and live in peace and end war. Each of us can find a way to make the values real for them and for those around them. Each must act according to our ability.
The Christmas challenge is almost impossible to be fulfilled in the commercial and political world. They are on a collision course. There can be no compromise with human rights. Killing of suspects is morally wrong and amounts to murder.
The commercial interests and the false news that Christmas is about tinsel and partying and having a good time smothers the meaning of Christmas. But we can change that in our lives by putting into practice the values we say we believe.
So what is the point of Christmas if its message and its very center, Jesus born in Bethlehem, is ignored? The message of Jesus will be rejected and ignored by those steeped in corruption, vice and crime. For them, the call to repent and embrace the values and principles of justice, love, truthfulness and respect for human rights is just a laughable joke. That is their choice and that is the root of evil in the world.
We can rise above that and must do all we can to keep alive the message, stand for the principles and live clean lives of honesty and faithfulness, virtue and the values of Christmas.
Rev. Shay Cullen is a co-founder of PREDA - a nonprofit dedicated to the welfare of children.