Merry Christmas: Law, Christmas, and Human Dignity
In Luke, we find the answer, and perhaps the real meaning of Christmas:
And now a lawyer stood up and, to test him, asked, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?”
He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus said to him, “You have answered right, do this and life is yours.”
Bloody events this Christmas remind us the same evil that sent Hans’ father skiing to Finland still prowls the world. What better example could exist than Nigerian Muslims bombing Catholic churches during Christmas services? A beautiful celebration of Christ’s birth, of peace and goodwill toward men, was destroyed by murderers. President Obama called the murders “senseless,” though I suspect there was a great deal of sense behind them from the murderers' point of view. Murder of the faithful has been a favorite tactic since Rome.
Since we have a few more weeks to celebrate Christmas, it isn’t too late for me to mention a Christmas movie that I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere. It doesn’t involve Santa, reindeer, or even Bethlehem. But if you’ve read this far, you’ll understand. It is Lilies of the Field with Sidney Poitier, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for playing Homer Smith in 1963. The movie is about treating others the way you want to be treated, in both subtle and obvious ways. It is a delight in so many other ways.
I don’t expect Lilies of the Field is terribly well known in some corners of Nigeria this Christmas.