Christmas is a challenge to the whole world. It's the only challenge worth accepting because it's the only choice mankind has for the `peace and justice' it's always sputtering about.

Comparisons are always odious. They are odious because no two people are alike just as no two things in creation are alike. Nevertheless, there are similarities among all things even though there is no true identity. For example, it would seem pretentious and in bad taste (although not too many people have any taste at all these days!) to suggest that Christ was more like St. Francis of Assisi, than the other way around.

But this is only because St. Francis is closer to us in time than is Jesus of Nazareth. Besides, being very human like the rest of us, we can identify better with the human imperfections of the Assisian than we can with the Nazarene.

However, there is little doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was very pleased with Francis of Assisi whom biographers call the "Mirror of Christ". Now that is really something to admire and even boast about. Not only that, but it is something to be imitated. Of course, our former fellows in the faith, the apostate Modernists, would strongly disagree with that suggestion. They would prefer to point to themselves as the image of modern virtue, whereas those who still believe in traditional values know that modern virtue is really nothing more than old-fashioned vice.

Neither Jesus nor Francis employed theatrics, although both were consummate actors. Their similar simplicity, their homogenous humility and their mutual meekness differed not in essence, but in degree alone. For, Jesus encouraged everyone to learn of Him because He was `meek and humble of heart.'

This is why Jesus is the world's greatest challenge and at the same time the world's greatest mystery.

Jesus Christ is truly a mysterious challenge to every intelligent being. He is so mysterious that since His birth there have never ceased to be individuals and sects seeking to dissect Him into either a phantom or a fraud.

Paradoxically, people love mysteries. Yet, they shun and fear the greatest and holiest of all mysteries. This is the only way to explain that strange manner of acting of those who fight fiercely and fraudulently to keep the charming scene of Bethlehem off "public property." Now this is a truly tragic indictment of most of humanity. It is an indictment of those who refuse to face the facts by fighting against them. By so doing, they merely display their true allegiance. It is not an allegiance to God, the Uncaused Cause of all being which they fancy themselves to worship, but to the first rebel against right order and divine majesty: Lucifer.

If some property is deemed "public" then the entire public has equal rights to its use. And, anyone challenging this right is obviously a narrow-minded bigot, a hate-filled miscreant and pathetic anti-social hypocrite.

The only kind of folks that would protest the inspiring scene of Bethlehem would be those virulently opposed to sound personal and social values. And among these values must always be placed what are called "family values." Family values are the virtuous and noble aspirations embodied in the basic molecule of nations: the family.

There is not very much symbolic value in a candlestick in comparison to the figures of a father, mother and child housed in the humble abode of beasts of burden. The former says very little. Candlesticks can be made to symbolize so many things: real and imaginary. Candlesticks are used on birthday cakes, too. They are used in processions to light the way in the dark or to enflame a feeling of unity.. You can use a candle for a lot of things. But, you can't twist the clear meaning of a Mother, father and Son crouched in the cold of a stable in the company of an ass and an ox. This says too much of truth and there is no way that this truth can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or mistaken.

And because the world, yes, even the `Catholic' world forgot what the true message of Christmas was all about, it took a little man from a quaint Italian town called `Assisi' to bring back the image of the reality clearly overlooked.

For, it was that loveable romantic, Francis of Assisi, who was inspired to re-create the first Christmas. He did this by borrowing some people and some livestock. He arranged to have this representation staged at Midnight when the Church and Her faithful were wont to gather for the Sacrifice of the Mass and commemorate that first historical event called `Christmas.'

The peddlers of pornography and anti-social programs are the ones who hate Christmas. They hate Christmas because Christmas is the beginning of the return to the true `fatherland.' And, because they hate what has happened, they necessarily hate what is happening even now. The more people turn to Jesus of Nazareth, the less the lovers of Lucifer and lust can profit by their profligacy.

Christmas is an invitation to a better life that must pass through the mysterious and not the maudlin. It is a call and appeal to the remnant human heart wherein the spark of decency and goodness has not yet been expunged.

You see, Christ and Christianity are not something to be discussed or argued about. Christ and Christianity are something that must be experienced and lived. And only those who are able to kneel before the Christchild lying in the manger can begin that great spiritual journey which leads to the heights of holiness.

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