Jesus Is The Reason

In Bethlehem, God gave to us
The source of Christmas joy;
A star shown on a miracle:
The virgin birth of a boy. He was born both God and man,
A Savior for us all,
The way to get to our heavenly home,
If we just heed His call. So as we shop and spend and wrap
And enjoy the Christmas season,
Let’s keep in mind the sacred truth:
Jesus is the reason.

By Joanna Fuchs

The birth of Jesus Christ as found in Luke 2:1-20

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.

2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria.

3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;

18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The First Enlightenment

National Review – Michael Novak

Those of us who are of Catholic mind do not believe that the Enlightenment began with Kant (“What is Enlightenment?”), or Locke or Newton, or even with Descartes. We cherish Plato, Aristotle, Cicero. But the first Enlightenment began with Christ Our Lord.

It was only with the Christ that EQUALITY meant every human being, barring none. From then on, no one was “barbarian.” Each bore in his own soul the mark of being called to be a dwelling of the Father and the Son — being called beyond all other calls a son of God. Neither mother nor father, neither civil society nor state, can answer to this call for you or me. None has any deeper bond or precedence than the relation of Creator and human creature. It is a bond of Spirit and Truth.

Thus was revealed each human’s LIBERTY primordial, and in that liberty, EQUALITY with all. No other but self can say to the the Father “No,” or “Yes.” That choice is for each single one of us inalienable. That choice brings each into the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all who are equal in the sight of God.

And that is how universal FRATERNITY became a human principle and an object of our striving.

Moreover, a singular feature of the coming of the Christ is that all have access to him — rich pagan kings riding from the East, Roman centurions (those who would put him to death, even they), Jew and Greek, and those of every nation, station, and state of virtue or of sin. From Bethlehem went out the message of the First Globalization — the global call to become one human family. But only by the narrow path of the free choice of each.

This was the First Enlightenment. There has been no deeper nor more all-embracing since.

From the streaming light of the marks of Christ’s coming — LIBERTY, FRATERNITY, EQUALITY — the Second Enlightenment (of Newton, Locke, Kant, Voltaire, and all the others) is derivative. Except that the second one would like to have these ideals, this vision, without God. And, if possible, while destroying the Christian Church. “Strangling the last king with the intestines of the last pope.” A dream of bloodshed. Christophobia.

And now we enter a period in the United States in which it is no longer true that our courts and laws consider ours a civilization uplifted by Christianity. Hatred for Christianity is running deeper, swifter. The day is upon us in which priests, bishops, evangelicals of all kinds, lay and clerical and of all Christian communities will be sent to jail.

To vote one’s conscience, or even to speak one’s conscience, on the matter of homosexual “marriage” more and more brings torrents of abuse.

The day has come, in the minds of some in power, that it is an abuse of human rights to hold abortion wrong. One would have thought that cutting short a life violates the natural right of the independent human being in the womb, just as surely as enslavement used to do. Turning things the other way, today some hold that for a doctor to refuse to take part in the abortion of a living child is to violate a woman’s right to kill the living one she carries.

If Christians must suffer even for the truths of reason that they hold, how will that be different from the first century after Christ was born, and many more? The world became Christian once by the hearing of the word. That did not prevent every one of the first apostles from being thrown in jail. The tradition may be coming back.

Our Christmas Guardians

Some aren’t home for holiday

New York Post – Ralph Peters

Each year at Christmas, we remember our troops, far from home, standing be tween us and the latest Herods out to slaughter the innocents.

As a former soldier, my thoughts are with the “ground pounders” out there, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Fort Hood, Texas. The challenges they face are immeasurably greater than those we faced in the black-boot, Cold War Army.

But we all have our special memories. I recall Christmases in the 1st Battalion of the 46th Infantry, in Germany, three decades ago. Our Army was far poorer then, without the lavish support we provide today.

We made the best of things. For the battalion cooks, Christmas was a huge event, when the mess hall (no real soldier called it a “dining facility”) was decorated with scrounged odds and ends. The oft-derided “spoons” put in plenty of extra hours to provide a meal that at least hinted of home.

The NCOs and their families made the day, though. A married platoon sergeant or squad leader would have his soldiers over to his quarters, where they’d gladly devour a second Christmas dinner. Pay was low back then, but the sense of brotherhood was high.

Still, it could be a terribly lonely time for a young soldier. And somebody still had to pull guard duty out on the ranges or by the ammo bunkers. A lieutenant, I made the rounds in a vintage Jeep, hauling cocoa and cookies from the mess hall for soldiers pulling shifts in the snow. Master Sgt. Pomeroy, my NCOIC, usually got there before me.

The point wasn’t the lukewarm cocoa poured into a cardboard cup but the sense that, whatever stock resentments crossed the ranks, we were all American soldiers and in it together. 1-46 was a tough outfit, but we all softened on Christmas.

Today, our troops serve under far more dangerous and demanding conditions than we did during those Cold War years of scrounging spare parts and training ammo. Their enemies are immediate and deadly, not just the stuff of intelligence estimates. The world is meaner now.

So here’s an inadequate Christmas thank-you to all who wear our nation’s uniform today. They’ll take care of each other out there at the back of beyond. Soldiers do. But let’s spread our gratitude a bit wider this year. Nowadays, our splendid troops get the support they deserve from their fellow citizens. But many others will serve and protect us on Christmas day — closer to home.

Spare a holiday wish for the Coast Guard, the service that does more with less than any other. The Coasties will be on duty on the icy winter waters. And the undermanned Border Patrol will be out there on another kind of front line, in the high desert of Arizona and along the St. Lawrence. National Park and Forest Service Rangers will experience their silent nights in the wilderness.

And it’s not just the feds who pull Christmas duty while the rest of us celebrate. Your state and local police will be out there, God bless ’em. Your fire department has to be ready on Christmas. And, sadly, emergency medical personnel can always count on a busy day on Dec. 25.

Then there are the admirable Americans (of various faiths) who volunteer their time or even dedicate their lives to those less fortunate. They’ll feed the hungry and shelter the homeless today, serving on a human front line that runs through all our lives.

My father, a rough-hewn, two-fisted man who’d seen life’s ups and downs, claimed that the Salvation Army was the best army ever fielded. They’ll be “on duty” today, living the authentic meaning of Christmas.

So from those of us fortunate enough to have no greater worry than getting the right proportion of whisky in the eggnog . . . here’s a heartfelt Christmas thanks to all those Americans, here and abroad, who will sacrifice their day for a greater good…]