Christmas is Not a Lie

FR. John MURRAY, Member of the Order of St Augustine,

Monday, December 14, 2020

I watched a powerful documentary this week on Liu Xiaobo.  Liu was a Chinese human rights activist, writer, and philosopher, who was named the Nobel Peace Laureate in 2010.  This honor was given to him while he was languishing in prison where he spent the rest of his life, being let out in 2017 so as to die out in the community.  What was his crime?  Speaking up for freedom, for the rights of all, and for democracy in Communist China where state control is paramount.  

In 2008, in his last interview with Deutsche Welle, before being imprisoned for that last time, he made poignant statements that are worth sharing.   

In China, I pay a price for free and critical thinking.  If you do not choose this way, a way thought too risky, you will not pay the price I paid.  But if you are one who thinks, you will still have to pay a price.  You will be obliged to lie.  You will have to follow the dominant ideology to obtain and maintain a good income, a good job.  Impossible then to be concerned about (injustices and abuses).  Impossible to make the slightest criticism of the government.  Impossible to express the tiniest, authentic opinion.  And all that for what?  For a materially comfortable life.  Well, I prefer to pay the high price of danger rather than become someone who lives a lie, rather than becomes someone who disowns his own conscience.  

WOW!!!  Ain’t this something, and as we approach Christmas!  

I then ask the doubters of Christmas. 
How can wishing good for all humanity be silly?
How can our wanting to experience some joy in life be silly?
How can our wanting to be happy with friends and loved ones be silly?
Yes, the popular story has become silly but treat it as good fun.  What is wrong with that? 

The pop Christmas story may be silly, I agree, but it is ultimately based on a truly human story, full of love, pathos, and risk.  It is real and it takes us beyond ourselves to a deeper place.  

Christmas is based on God’s gift made possible through Mary’s Yes.  She made her Yes on facing the truth and in the face of all odds.  It led her to live all the joys and costs that Yes implied.  

So Ho! Ho! Ho!  Why not?  If Liu Xiaobo was happy with his Yes, why can’t we be happy with Mary’s Yes and celebrate Christmas for the sake of a good life shared by all?  Joy to the world.


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