Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are depicted in a wooden crèche. CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier

Charles Lewis: Jesus’ followers need to change culture around us

  • January 5, 2022

Around Christmas we often hear about the miracle of God coming to us as a baby. To think of God, the being who is being itself, of whom nothing that exists is higher, made Himself vulnerable and poor. Many scholars think He was born in a cave. It must have been cold as hell.

My friend Robert Wild, a priest at Madonna House in Combermere, Ont., summed it up beautifully in a recent article:

“He could have come as a full-grown man, and simply made Himself known some place. He could have come as another Alexander the Great, conqueror of the world and conformed to our concept of God as a mighty warrior. He could have come as the greatest Judge of all time, conforming to our concept of God as constantly judging all our actions.  He could have come as a Greek philosopher, wiser than Socrates, conforming to our concept of God as all-wise. But how did He come? The way He came has revolutionized all our previous understandings of God: He came as a baby.”

I was thinking about this during Christmas Mass as the priests at my parish served the Eucharist. Here was Christ in a wafer, a fragile disc of wheat flower. The priests watch over those hosts like a mother hen over their chicks.

I was at a Mass in Assisi years ago. The man in front of me received the host but he didn’t put it in his mouth. Instead, he tried to sneak off with it. For what nefarious purpose I can only imagine. But in a flash the priest and a few good souls in the pews leapt to stop him and the Eucharist was removed from his hands.

It was as if they were trying to protect a child from being kidnapped.

Of course, Jesus the Man-God was no snowflake. He grew up to be as tough as the wood He died upon. He had no home. He walked everywhere in worn-out sandals and robes. He had no idea when He would eat next and where He would sleep. The apostles must have wondered from time to time whether they could keep up with Him. It’s a life few of us would choose.

His teachings were not exactly sugary. He preached love but it was the kind of love Fyodor Dostoyevsky called “a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams.”

To follow Jesus took courage — as it still takes courage today. He knew He would die in the worst possible way but He never seriously considered altering His fate. Imagine that.

Now we are moving out of the Advent season. Before we know it we will be observing Lent. And that will conclude with the greatest miracle mankind has ever seen: Jesus rising from the dead to live forever.

If we are truly following Jesus then I believe we have to toughen up … and soon. We must make a resolution, not an empty resolution to exercise more or give up sweets, but a promise to respond to our world with love, but also with the determination to change the culture around us. Like Jesus, we need to flip the world around us on its head, turning it towards life and not death.

Jesus paid the price for tearing down the establishment and we should expect that our efforts may not wins us adulation. Jesus told us that would be the case.

We live in a culture that has gone completely off the rails. I shouldn’t have to list the ways but just as a not-so gentle reminder: abortion, euthanasia and gender confusion. We live under a government that is trying to chase religion out of the public square.Just look at Bill 21 in Quebec. Look it up. It’s hideous but tolerated.

So now we are entering a time when our eyes will be focused on the cross. We will look at an image of Christ hanging in agony on an execution device that could have only been thought up by Satan.

What do you think the Man who suffered for you and me would want us to do? I think He’d want us to face up to reality, steel ourselves and march forward to spread the Gospel.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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