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December 23, 2013

If non-believers took the time to discover what Christians celebrate at Christmas, not only would they refuse to take part in the party, they would rise up and riot against what they would see as the most offensive example of religious exclusivism in history.

The belief that in the whole sweep of history, God became fully human in one and only one man who lived in a tiny corner of the world and that all paths to communion with the divinity must be routed through that man Jesus is a contention repulsive to an age drenched in relativism.

It is no secret. Every Sunday we proclaim, "I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. Through him all things were made."

For the non-Christian (and the Christian too), God is conceived as ineffable, eternal, infinite, unknowable, perfect goodness and beyond all earthly beauty. Who are we to say that he showed up one day as a baby?

It is no suprise that when he grew up and told people who he was, they decided to kill him. No sane person would believe such blasphemy.

Yet, the Western world is all astir with shopping and decorating and partying throughout December. Most partiers give nary a thought to the scandalous belief at the core of the celebration. The transition to "Happy Holidays" shows how mindless the celebration has become, indeed how much it even represents an escape from the core truth of the Incarnation.

The descent into "Happy Holidays" is to be pitied as much as protested. It is the prime example of how profundity is washed away by a tidal wave of fluff.

Yet, if our culture has hope, it lies in a great sea change. Our hope lies in wading out of the fluff and beginning to swim in the waters of the Holy Spirit. What a great ignominy it would be for us to drown in an ocean of superficiality when the living waters of Baptism are readily available.

What about other religions and non-religions? Don't they offer truth? Indeed they do. However, insofar as they possess truth, it is truth that leads to Jesus. Jesus is not only God; he is the full revelation of God.

You can't have it any other way. Either Jesus is an imposter, a blasphemer and a madman or all truth about God is revealed only through him. If the latter is true then any other truth about God that humans discover is fulfilled and placed in proper context only in Jesus. That is a scandalous claim.

It is bizarre to witness an unbelieving world celebrating that scandal oblivious to its meaning. We can only hope that somehow, amidst the celebrating, the stark truth does slip through here and there and draws people to that mystery.