Just in time for Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI is out with a new book entitled Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives that is generating headlines and debunking some traditional elements of the Christmas story.
Some of the tradition debunking includes:
Jesus’ birth year, just a few (or several) years earlier than previously thought – now calculated between 7 B.C. and 2 B.C. rather than 1 A.D.
Obviously this throws a small wrench in the wheel of time for all earth and human history since B.C. means Before Christ and A.D. means Anno Domini representing the birth of Christ. (Oh well, just a small “blunder” by some sixth century monk!)
Christmas (Christ’s mass) has no basis in historical fact as celebrated on December 25 since A.D. 353, when Pope Julius I selected and authorized that day.
And the worst news of all is reserved for Christmas stores everywhere because the Pope says no cute animals were present at the manger nativity scene – no donkeys, no fuzzy little lambs or adorable friendly oxen.
Wow, this marketing savvy Pope obviously knows what it takes to sell books in the 21st century, while providing some great new material for late night comics.
But seriously, do any of these revelations really matter to the true followers of Jesus? After all HE is the real “reason for the season” regardless of when the real season really began.
“Christ’s mass” could be celebrated on any day, in whatever B.C. or A.D. year is deemed appropriate and it would still be just as sacred because the exact date is immaterial as to why Christians believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, God, Messiah, King of Kings, etc.
In fact there is only one day in particular that really matters to Christians. That day is the reason we are still even talking about a poor Jewish preacher who lived and died a couple of thousand years ago after suffering a horrible death. That day of course is Easter Sunday.
Without Easter Sunday, that is without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no Christianity. But because He rose from the dead, thus fulfilling numerous Old Testament Jewish Bible prophesies about his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection, His Spirit lives. Christ is alive for those who believe in Him, not just because we read about Him in the Bible or heard about Him in church but because we have experienced Him first hand. Christ intervenes in our lives!
So because of who HE is, Jesus, born with or without the presence of cute lambs on (pick a date or year) will still be the central figure around which the world’s largest religion thrives.
It is my belief the Pope’s officially “debunking” the Christmas date and some associated traditions, exposes all Christians to potential ridicule by non-Christians as the “War on Christmas” continues in our increasingly secular society where the word “Christmas” is being replaced by “holiday” ever more each passing year and Christianity itself is on the wane in our nation.
But meanwhile, across the globe, Christianity with 2.2 billion followers, one–third of the planet’s population, is currently experiencing exponential growth, particularly in Africa and even in forbidden places like the Middle East where millions of Christians risk their lives and limbs to worship Him in secret churches.
However, the most spectacular Christian growth of all, with the greatest potential to change the world, is happening right now in China, where Christianity is spreading like “wild fire.”
Some sources on the ground are stating that a full 10% of the estimated 1.4 billion Chinese are now practicing Christians. If true, this means there are 150 million Christians in China, with more on the way, since the Communist Party is now encouraging its growth!
I have a feeling Jesus (although we know now not born on Christmas Eve) will still be celebrating the current global trends of His “Good News” during the “holidays.”
And many Catholics I imagine would love to receive the Pope’s new book during this “not historically factual” gift giving season, but the gift I wish for is that the real meaning of Christmas be restored as “Christ’s mass” throughout our culture rather than the current trends downplaying it.
Then perhaps here in the USA we could truly celebrate the birth of our Savior everyday along with his life, death, resurrection and Holy Spirit that lives within us, not just in passing for a few weeks during extended “holiday” shopping hours.
If that happened, I am confident overall we would be a much happier, hopeful and productive nation. For increased faith in Christ would positively affect all Americans regardless of whether they were followers of the Jewish preacher whose birthday and year is totally irrelevant.
Jesus Lives and that is all that matters to me and billions of others around the globe this Christmas season.