Thank God for faiths that can help overcome addiction, loneliness or stress; for institutions that can help raise the children among us. Those were never meant to be easy, ephemeral tasks. And they may be religion’s true reward. As Jesus himself prayed to the Father before he died, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”
– Newsweek, Dec. 17, 1990
Christmas is celebrated widely by believers and nonbelievers alike because of the impact of the birth and teaching of Jesus Christ on humankind.
In the spirit of the anniversary of His birth, we have a special obligation to remember His mission to feed the hungry and heal the sick. He taught His followers to serve others. Whether or not you are a Christian, Jesus message’ of love and compassion should strike a universal chord.
In this blessed land of material plenty, a deepening poignancy and irony centers on the plight of the growing numbers of homeless and hungry. Many conservative Americans profess to be children of God and say they want to do His will, yet offer disdain and ridicule for the poor and powerless in our society. They see themselves as waging a battle against the secular, anti-religious views of the political left, while ignoring the Bible’s message of charity and love toward one’s fellow man – values more often enshrined in policy stands of the left than the right.
We see this in the hateful tenor of the contemporary conversation about accepting refugees from Latin America and Syria. Xenophobia, racism and fear of terrorist acts committed by radical jihadists drives many conservative Americans to oppose our offering safe haven to people fleeing wars and atrocities perpetuated by our common enemies – or by regimes we help enable and empower. To brand all Latin Americans or Muslims as unwelcome – or “rapists,” as President Trump has branded Mexican immigrants – is a profoundly hateful and therefore un-Christian attitude.
Further, many conservative Christians appear to be galvanized by almost nothing but opposition to the abortion option for women. Their self-announced “pro-life” values appear to end at birth, as they support candidates working to undo affordable health care for all Americans and sluggish to refund a state health insurance program that insures low-income children.
The current abomination of a U.S. president – and his countless violations of the spirit and practice of Christ, despite his allegedly “Christian” support – leads an administration that even directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove “vulnerable” from all publications and communications. If Christ watches us, He must weep.
Of all the seasons, Christmas compels all of us to reach out to the less-fortunate with tangible help, not just pious expressions of sympathy, let alone the cold indifference, tinged by outright malice and racism, of Trump’s Republican Party. “What the Lord requires of you,” wrote the Prophet Micah, “is to do justice, love and mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”