By: Rev. William Patrick Casey, C.P.M.
We’ve been hearing it said in recent weeks that “Halloween is the new Thanksgiving.” That is to say that the Christmas shopping season is beginning earlier and earlier with each passing year. Rather than “Black Friday,” (the Friday after Thanksgiving) marking the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, most retail outlets all over the country now have their Christmas decorations up and their holiday sales and commercials running on the In of November. This, it seems to me, is just another indication that the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is being increasingly eclipsed in the ongoing secularization and commercialization of our American culture.
I recently heard a true story about a Catholic woman who went on a Christmas shopping trip in New York City. She went into one of the major department stores to buy a gift for someone. She went to the jewelry department and asked to look at a crucifix on a gold chain. The young saleswoman working at the counter opened up the display case and said to her, “Which one do you want to see ….the plain one …or the one with the little man on it.”
That sounded funny to me at first, but if you think about it, you realize how sad and pathetic this really is. Because it seems like for most people today, that’s all that Jesus is. That is what the Only Begotten Son of God, the Eternal Word made flesh, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has become to them: a little man. A little man without an identity. A little man without a face, without a name, and without a history. A little man with no place in their lives.
This is surely the great tragedy of our time. If there are still so many who don’t want to recognize the image of Jesus Christ on the cross, if they don’t know Christ crucified, if they are so grossly ignorant of the means of our salvation and God’s definitive intervention in human history, how can they ever be ready to meet the risen Lord when He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead? How can they ever come to recognize Him in the Holy Eucharist, where his real, substantial and abiding presence is hidden under the appearance of bread and wine. It is impossible!
The sad fact is that for the majority of people in our country today, Our Lord seems to have become that “little man.” We see the signs and the proof of this all around us today. We see it in the way in which God has been driven out of public life. We see it in the way that God has been driven out of government and out of politics. We see it in the way that God has been driven from the public schools and the education system, driven out of our courts, out of the practice of law, out of the practice of medicine, out of the business and the financial system, out of the news and entertainment media, etc.. We see it in the way that so many of our politicians and judges are now attempting to redefine the so-called principle of the separation of Church and state to mean the separation of God from life.
Today the True God is being driven out, and a false god is being established in His place. The false god, the triune god of the modem world is money, sex and technology, and it would seem obvious that the false god now has more worshippers that the True God does. History has proven time and time again, that wherever and whenever the True God is driven out, all hell will break loose, and it does not take long.
As we observe the season of Advent and prepare to celebrate the coming of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let us pray with all the zeal and intensity in our hearts that the impending disastrous outcome of the current abandonment of faith can still be averted, and the spiritual renewal that our suffering, spiritually impoverished nation is so badly in need of may become a reality.