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The Feast of the Nativity or Christmas signals the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The significance of this date, under no circumstances, should be relegated strictly for the faithful. It marked the beginning of a Life, human in flesh yet divinely commensurate and all powerful. Simply put, the world changed as a result of the coming of the Savior. This is not to say that evil would be expunged from the world. No. That would violate the very laws and premise for His human incarnation and the course He was to charter. Upon its material culmination, a permanent renovation took hold. Despite all the challenges by the forces of evil of yesterday and today, the essence of the values, the worldview, and the hope which that exceptional Life bestowed on humanity, is ever alive and present. It is most fitting to take some of those magnanimous things into account. Let us consider just three.
Christianity as the religion, movement, belief system that ensued following the life of Jesus, set into motion a true universal reset. Let us begin with freedom. The very notion itself of voluntarily choosing to believe or not, was a revolutionary innovation that underscored the part that freedom was given in this new way of looking and living in the world.
Historically, up to that time a long human line of mechanical, sacrificial and/or cult rituals were the norm of conduct required of the subjects and enforced by the absolutist political authorities or their equivalents. Following the paradigm reformulation, the Child King born on Christmas day unleashed a covenant where, believers (and nonbelievers) would be asked to come forth, live a virtuous life and claim the gift of eternal life, through grace for some, by faith for others, but always at the bequest of reason and decision making.
Predestination tempered with free will, in line with the solace that only a virtuous act carried out in the free exercise of action carries with it the proper dose of merit. As Pope Benedict XVI acutely wrote: “Freedom is evidently the necessary structure of the world” (Ratzinger 158).
If freedom is made structurally evident with the notion that the free space given to believe or not assures us that we are free, it would be logical to conclude that personal responsibility must play an important part in this liberating understanding of life. We are accountable for our good deeds as well as our sins. Such is the rendition of justice, another seminal component of the initiation of this new order.
Justice, however, not chained to conventional norms which are so often capricious and subject to the whims of temporal issues. Rather an understanding of a justice, as the Child from Bethlehem once grown would remark, in a supernatural realm. There would be Caesar’s justice: lame, defective and potentially unjust; and then there was the inescapable and superior justice, under divine stewardship.
Suddenly, with the special relationship that freedom and justice acquired through Christianity’s ascent, one could see the unfolding of well-placed mechanisms that establish important parameters for preferred modes of arranging civic governance, like democracy within a constitutional republic. Where is the bridge between tenets of Christian doctrine and conventional political models? Natural law and the fact that there are preeminent rights that are God-given and a superior system of justice implementation that produce a better citizenry, on the one hand, and invokes greater responsibility on the part of society on the other.
The global transformation that the Child King set off, had they been applicable during His earthly phase, might have found a world much less hostile than the one Jesus lived in. The reign of a brutal tyranny with the full throttle of state sponsored terrorism and persecution, an organized religion complicit and impious, competing state pagan belief mechanisms, the open practice of infanticide, abject poverty, horrible sanitary conditions, a barbaric justice system and technological backwardness (to name a few) represented the existential characteristics of the human realm Jesus was faced with.
As we celebrate Christmas with a true sense of devotion and an important dose of consciousness, it is pivotal to comprehend that the evils of our time, were mitigated greatly by the profound reset that the followers and believers of that Infant we honor on this special occasion, were brave enough to carry through. Let us keep the tradition, in its full meaning, alive, relevant and remain faithful to that way which is conducive to the preservation of the transcendental reset that Jesus began. Merry Christmas!
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.