The historic impact of the birth of Christ
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-12-25
Most people associate Christmas, the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, with family gatherings, reunions and gift giving. The date — December 25 — when we celebrate Christmas has been challenged. So what? It has become a tradition that promotes love and goodwill and it makes no difference if we mark it on a so-called wrong date.

Among Christians, the Christmas tradition has become so much of the most pleasant memories that we accumulate in life. Changing its date will be considered an act of heresy, inviting burning at the stake in the public square. You’ll likely be told off: “You can have your bloody date but we will keep the Christmas tradition in our hearts.”

For senior citizens like me, Christmas is the time to revel in memories, the happy times that we’ve spent with our dear departed loved ones. We’re no longer kids but we yearn for those days when we were kids. In my case, these would be Christmas spent with Mom and Dad, my granny whom we call Abuelita, my brother Dicky — now all spending Christmas beyond the pearly gates.

The birth of Jesus Christ is more than just a world religious event that has evolved into a family tradition. The birth of Jesus Christ was the best demonstration of what Germany’s Otto Von Bismarck described as “God marching through history” or those moments when the world socio-economic and political order is overhauled, which the logic of man could only attribute to be the act of God.

An act of God is expected to be a major game changer. Christian advancement led to the reconfiguration of European nations. World War I, another event that could be seen as God marching through history, triggered the collapse of the Royal houses of Russia, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. World War I to this day and age continues to shape world history. The unsettled issues among the Balkan states and the Middle East situation were effects of World War I.

First hunted and killed like vermin by previous Roman emperors, Christians eventually became important political players to the point that Roman emperor Constantine officially acknowledged Christianity within the Roman realm in order to strengthen his political flanks. It could be said that Constantine’s recognition of Christianity marked the start of the fall of the Roman Empire.

From there Christianity would proceed to have a telling effect on European history — including the initiation of so many wars. Wars that were fought between Christians and Protestants were to become a major part of European history. Catholicism has been attacked for being too superstitious and narrow minded — qualities that are easily seen in present Catholic Church leaders here and at the Vatican. The situation craved for the birth of an alternative Christian religion in Europe. An issue of mindsets, yet some Popes opted to use the military option to subdue the so-called heretics.

From its earliest days, the religion that Jesus Christ had spawned was plagued by a conflict between its narrow minded and its more perceptive members. This conflict raged between St. Peter and St. Paul. It was Paul that paved the way for the global expansion of Christianity. If you read the life of Christ, you’ll hardly see any semblance of violence in it. Christ was the lamb that meekly goes to be slaughtered.

Per The Harvest Fields Statistics of 2010, as compiled by Stephen Ross, there are an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world today, 1.1 billion of them Catholics. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, close to a million Hindus and 462,000 Buddhists. Considering the population of India, one has to wonder that they only have only close to a million Hindus.

With 2.2 billion Christians, 1.1 billion of them Catholics, and 1.5 billion Muslims it was inevitable that a clash between them was just a matter of time. The bad blood started when the Muslims occupied Jerusalem, a holy site for both Christians and Muslims. The Pope initiated the crusades and when these crusaders retook Jerusalem and adjacent areas — they committed some of the worst atrocities in history. Without making any distinctions, the crusaders massacred the citizens and this is believed to be the foundation of the deep distrust today between Christians and Muslims.

In their respective basic text, the Bible for Christians and Koran for the Muslims, there are accounts, which if interpreted by self-serving persons, could be used as justification for transgression. The Jihad that we see Muslims apply in our times is no different from the murderous crusades that started the bad blood. Christians and Muslims had contributed to science and they should focus more on these endeavors that help man.

It’s Christianity that’s supposed to be imbued with the tolerance preached by Christ, as expressed by the turning the other cheek and the loving of one’s enemies. Yet Christians have inflicted so much violence in the world.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May God shower your home, and all other Filipino homes, with love and peace.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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