Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
Christmas this year comes in most turbulent times. Floods, tornadoes, wildfires and other extreme weather phenomena have ravaged the earth. Russian troops have been massing along the Ukrainian border threatening to launch an all-out invasion to add to the illegal territorial seizures they have conducted to date. Wars continue to rage around the world – in Africa and the Middle East in particular. Rogue states continue to violate human rights – chief among them Russia and China, the latter right to the point of conducting what is widely recognized as an act of genocide against its Uighur minority. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread unabated with new variants surfacing on a regular basis. And to top it all off, we no longer know what to believe in the secular world. As Patriarch Sviatioslav of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church put it in this year’s Christmas Pastoral Letter:
“We live in a world where trust is not merely wounded, but under constant attack. A great crisis of trust is felt in different spheres of social and even church life. Through new communication technologies, the manipulation of truth, which has always existed throughout human history, today is carried with lightning speed all over the globe. We no longer know what to believe and whom to trust. Our understanding is permeated with the conviction that in the world there is no truth and no justice, and that at every step there is only deception, falsehood, and duplicity.”
But, he continues; “In response to our present-day temptations regarding mistrust, the Lord Himself comes in order to reveal the truth and embrace us with His trust… Through faith in God, in His birth among us, let us restore our trust in a humanity that searches for Him!”
Yes, the Lord Himself has come down in order to reveal the truth and He has done it through His birth. And that, let us remember, is what Christmas is all about. It is not about gift-giving and shopping frenzies. The commercialization of Christmas has caused us to lose our perspective. It has become secularized. How many people greet each other with simply “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. Why can’t they simply say, “Merry Christmas” or “Christ is Born”? Do we not respect the Christian faith? Certainly, non-Christians can also enjoy the festivities that come with our holiday, and especially the message of peace and goodwill to all. But everyone – Christians and non-Christians alike should recognize it as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ out of respect to those who do believe.
So, first and foremost, let’s put Christ back into Christmas and let us celebrate Christmas together. Because, regardless of your faith, the message of peace and goodwill to all is universal. And this message is so needed in the world we live in today.
And as we celebrate Christmas, let us not forget those who are less fortunate than we are. Those who have been displaced by war, pestilence, floods, wildfires and other tragedies. Those who are prisoners of conscience and of war. Those who are victimized by human rights abuses. Those who cannot afford the rising costs of living and find it difficult to simply feed their families. Pray for all and help those you can.
So, please do enjoy the holiday. Do sit down with your family for the sumptuous Christmas Eve Dinner. Sing out our traditional Christmas carols and be sure to attend the Divine Liturgy. But, above all, remember what this is all about – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal message of peace and goodwill to all.
Christ is Born!
Let us Glorify Him!