What is the message carried by Christmas? What should we understand from this essential moment for Catholics around the world? Is this holiday reserved for Christians only? So many frequently asked and unanswered questions.
Is Christmas threatened by modernity, or by what takes its place? The debate is posed every year, here as elsewhere, so much the mercantile drift seems to alter the meaning of this moment. This Catholic holiday is regularly questioned. It is true that in the seventeen centuries it has existed it has somewhat lost its original meaning.
Party A popular pagan in ancient Rome, Christmas gradually evolved into a religious holiday once the Christian world took hold of it. Under the impetus of the Emperor of Rome Aurelian in the 3rd century AD, it became an essential moment in the Catholic liturgical calendar.
Since then, in regions and countries where Catholicism is the dominant or sole religion, Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Ironically, the pagan dimension of the origins which had disappeared has largely taken over the religious dimension, over time, here as elsewhere.
Christmas did not impose itself on the whole world…
Another peculiarity of this holiday is that, despite the predominance of Western civilization over other contemporary civilizations, Christmas has not imposed itself in regions of the world where other religions dominate, whether monotheistic or not. It is true that early Christianity has undergone innumerable changes and is anything but monolithic. Its diversity has not helped its spread across the entire planet, where dozens of religions coexist.
The paradox is that a planetary truce is observed on the occasion of Christmas, when the majority of Earthlings are not Catholic. The ambient noise of the world fades somewhat. As if everyone had agreed to take advantage of this moment to refocus on a few universal values, which are not specific to Christians, moreover.
Among other examples: sharing, solidarity with the poor, generosity, benevolence. But now, in our troubled times, can we attest that these values are respected? Who shares what, with whom? Who shows solidarity with his neighbour, every day? Who willingly practices tolerance and listening to others?
… But this moment marks a planetary truce
It has to be said that in our society, solidarity is being diluted, that the misery once shared is now hidden under the artificial clothes of an unfinished or badly accepted modernity, that joy is annihilated by wars, the height of the inhumanity of human being. As if the message of the origins attached to this celebration is increasingly ignored.
It is true that the Catholic Church is challenged by the persistence of atheism and the vitality of other religions. But here it is, is the message of fraternity and the call to humanity of the human being necessarily specific to a single religion, or to a single mode of spirituality?