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What Christmas this Year?

Presents, shopping, decorations, trees, Santa Claus are all beautiful but let us be careful not to reduce Christmas to these signs alone. Let us not fall into the “temptation to commercialize Christmas.”

The Christmastide is already in. I find myself wondering pensively, “How are we supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year when millions of our brothers and sisters are in the midst of wars, lacking essential commodities, and suffering the ravages of climate change?”

Still reeling from the lingering aftereffects of COVID-19, humanity is contending with a foolish war between Russia and Ukraine that is already viciously impacting the whole world.

Besides the devastation inflicted on Ukraine, the conflict scared away millions of people in search of safety in neighboring countries.  Prices of basic goods shot up and scarcity of grain is hitting poorer nations hardest.

An energy crisis is looming on the horizon. The world is witnessing its largest energy shortage since the 1970s. The prices of gasoline and natural gas have surged astronomically.

Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate disasters piling up and worsening season after season. Things are getting worse and experts are calling for mitigation strategies and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the midst of this rather apocalyptic scenario, is there any spark of hope left? For Christians, yes, there is hope. Christmas is the reawakening of our hope because of the birth of Jesus.

Which Christmas do we wish and commit ourselves, then, to celebrate this year? A Christmas of futility or of fraternity? A Christmas of greed or of actions in favor of the poor? A Christmas of extravagance or of fraternal coexistence? A Christmas of war or of respect for life? A Christmas of corruption or of honesty? A Christmas of luxury or of solidarity?

We should know how to distinguish what is true from what is futile in the way we celebrate Christmas. Presents, shopping, decorations, trees, Santa Claus–all these are beautiful but let us be careful not to reduce Christmas to these signs alone. Pope Francis warns us of the risk of falling into the “temptation to commercialize Christmas.”

Let us renew, then, our commitment to creating a truly just and fraternal human coexistence. May our personal and social projects correspond to what we celebrate at Christmas. May Jesus lead us along the paths of justice and peace.

Let us be inspired by the exhortation of the apostle Paul: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).

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