Most of us think of New Year’s Day as a new beginning with new aspirations, wishes and promises that generally do not last long. To be sure, New Year’s Day offers a calendrical opportunity to reset our beliefs and social contract as well as treat our past mistakes as old news.
It is also true however, that the days before New Year’s Day are more in line with the notion of a new beginning. For example, December the 21st is the Winter solstice and represents the beginning of the path to greater light after the longest night of the year.
In religion, Christians believe that the birth of Jesus Christ provides the beginning point of a belief system that has lasted for over two thousand years. In the Latino world, culture and religion come together to promote a new beginning symbolized by the December 9-12, 1531 appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Mount Tepeyac, also the site of a Basilica to honor her and the event in Mexico City.
The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe is a powerful statement that underscores Jose Vasconcelos’ (the first post-Mexican Revolution Secretary of Education) concept of “La Raza,” a fifth race made up of the 4 existing categories. The journey of the Virgin Mary from Semitic roots in Asia and Africa, to the Greek and Roman world, to Medieval and Renaissance Europe and finally to a historic conjunction with Tonantzin, the mother of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in the Valley of Mexico led to the Mestizo mother we celebrate today as Guadalupe.
The beginning we should concentrate on this Christmas is the spiritual renewal represented by the birth of Christ. More than at any time in our history, we need to be rallied by that event as we face an existential threat to the corruption of that belief system.
Christians believe that Jesus is God and that his birth and placement in a manger (that is a trough for animal feed in a stable) is a way of saying that he came to offer divine redemption for the least of us. Jesus however, represents more than that as he is also the ultimate metaphor that stands with one foot in our world and the other in eternity.
Christians practice their faith with varying degrees of interpretation and devotion. You would think that those that see themselves as his most devout followers would best model his love, humility, honesty and care for the least of us.
You would think that Christmas represents an opportunity to renew our faith in the Christian spirit. Unfortunately, our divided America is coming to believe in opposite realities; the reality that Jesus built and an alternative one that corrupts the first.
In our present circumstance, we find that truth has an alternative that is no longer considered a falsehood. The lie is just an alternative truth.
We are finding that the compromise of American traditional values is now an accepted way of doing the people’s business. Gaining and maintaining money and power by corrupt means is a sign of strength.
This year, Christmas is not coming soon enough. We really need some kind of redemption and a new start that we can all believe in.
The Christ child born in a stable and cradled in a feed trough can again be a lesson that can lead us to the renewal of our humanity. Christmas has always offered the message of peace for the world and love to our humanity. And that has no alternative.