, Gloucester, MA

December 4, 2012

Letter: Christmas and self-sacrifice

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Christmas is the most horrible holiday the human mind could ever imagine.

That’s because it is all about the two things our fallen humanity truly despises — self-sacrifice and social rejection.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus who is God incarnate. The transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient, flawless being who imagined the universe and every thing in it and spun it into existence by the force of his will – entered our world 2,000 years ago in Israel to declare war on pride and warped power.

For the creator to become a Jewish infant in a manger in Bethlehem is an act of self-sacrifice no one will ever fathom. Perfect innocence entering a perfectly obscene race of beings. He lowered himself infinitely to raise us up and to restore our dignity.

Before he was even born, he was rejected, hunted and made a social outcast: “Then Herod was exceedingly angry and he put to death all the male children in Bethlehem from two years old and under.” And “so Joseph got up, took the child and his mother during the night and fled to Egypt.”

Everything the Rabbi taught and did revolved around self-sacrifice and social rejection: “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Then, “blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake.”

Self-centered, vainglorious creatures such as us, who from kindergarten to the grave live lives that scream, ‘Look at me!’ - must always find an enemy in Jesus of Nazareth, who said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Christmas, because we are wicked and rebellious and dishonest creatures, has been perverted.

Twisted to replace self-sacrifice with self-gratification and to replace the self-effacing carpenter’s son, whose morality makes us uncomfortable, with a jolly bearded obese dude who morphs the holiday into a socially acceptable celebration. An orgy of crass profiteering — because making money will always be more popular than making people holy.

So, what is the true spirit of Christmas? Repentance.

Christmas is the time to face yourself at the end of the year and admit you’ve rejected the gift of God’s call in Christ to forsake yourself and the opinions of others – and to resolve not to spend another entire year glorifying your own sinful self.