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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Birth of Christ

What do we really celebrate? The birth of that innocent baby, God incarnate, of course. But what else? Why does it have meaning? Because never before in history had anyone loved their enemy unto death, as Jesus did, and preached it to their followers. He refused to hate his murderers. Not only that, Jesus stood up to horrific torture and humiliation with perfect courage, honor, poise, and power. This stunned his enemies, and is the key to why Christianity - as it became known - thrived. Don't forget, people called him "Rabbi" while he lived, and he was initially called the "Jewish prophet of Galilee" The religion of Christ was an offshoot of Judaism. That is its root.

The power of Christmas is still strong, and this is borne out by the fact that families gather whenever possible during this season of the year. People travel thousands of miles to see family and friends. Many old quarrels and bitter feelings are dissipated by the renewal of friendship and good company. Many new relationships begin. Sure, many conflicts arise too, but this is a price worth paying and is often a sign of growth when people are hurting. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol epitomizes the power of the season, and the angry Scrooge is in us all at times. The redemption of Scrooge can always take place, and the angels are always at our side. Forgiveness and good cheer are given freer rein at Christmas than at any other time of the year.

If you haven't seen The Passion of the Christ, the movie by Mel Gibson, you really must. It's extraordinary in every way. This author has never seen any film make so many people cry, leaving the theater in tears; before or since. It makes one realize the epic proportions of the crucifixion, the resurrection,  and its implications.

The truth is we must love those who speak badly of us and insult us because sometimes they are right. Benjamin Franklin said, "Our enemies are our friends, for they show us our faults." How true this is, often. Even if we're good to the core, we still aren't perfect, and need to be corrected sometimes. If we love only those who flatter us we may be playing into the hands of our enemies. Flattery is often a terrible lie that deceives and hooks us. If we really love someone we won't put up with bad behavior, and will risk their friendship to tell them the truth. Always consider the possible truthfulness of harsh words.

The killers were certainly wrong about Jesus, but many converted afterward when they realized the enormity of what they had done. They saw the light. Forgiveness is an expression of love, and real love is a very great light.